AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Senate has settled on what they want the state’s budget to look like for the next two years. On Tuesday, SB 1 passed unanimously, allocating $217.8 billion in total funds, of which $106 billion is coming from state taxes—which is higher than the original Biennial Revenue Estimate amount of $104.9 billion.
To make up for the larger budget even with less revenue coming in, state lawmakers are looking to the state highway fund. In 2015, voters approved changes to the constitution that would dedicate $5 billion from every budget to the state highway fund. The Senate is being criticized by Speaker of the House Joe Straus for using “accounting tricks,” including half of the money earmarked for transportation to fill in the budget gap. The House, however, supports tapping Texas’ rainy day fund to spare spending cuts.
Higher education institutions will see a significant cut of $332 million. The Texas Tribune reports the Senate proposal also a $400 million cut to the state’s health and human services programs.
Even though some areas will have to adjust to less monies, some departments did see an increase in funds. Child Protective Services, which was a priority item for state officials, is now funded at $430 million. This new budget will allow for the raise increase as well as additional caseworkers.
“That is not enough, according to experts and the agency itself, but it’s a huge step forward,” says State Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso.
The budget will now be reviewed by the House Committee.