Governor Rick Perry, Friday, signed House Bill 1 into law, providing $151.9 billion to fund initiatives and programs important to carrying the State of Texas forward responsibly in the upcoming biennium. The governor also used his line-item veto power to reduce the two-year budget by $570 million, as well as $76.6 million from House Bill 15.
"The budget passed by the 80th Legislature will ensure Texas continues on the path of prosperity; building and strengthening the distinct pillars that create a great society: quality education, health care and security," said Perry. "Legislators should be proud of their work, but be ever cognizant that more is still to be done."
The budget signed by Gov. Perry increases general revenue spending by $7.7 billion, or 11.8 percent, compared to the current biennium. Ninety percent of growth is due to increased funding in education, human services, criminal justice and the environment.
The 2008-09 budget increases border security funding by more than $100 million, invests an additional $146 million in college financial aid, provides hundreds of millions of dollars to help Texans purchase private and employer-sponsored health insurance, provides funding for a new film incentive program, provides more money for the Children's Health Insurance Program, expands state investment in clean air programs, and provides hundreds of millions of dollars for teacher incentive programs. It also funds increases for classrooms, mentoring for the children of prisoners and important criminal justice priorities.
"While I support many of the investments in the budget, I am concerned this budget is not transparent; rather it continues billions of dollars of accounting gimmicks and neglected opportunities to provide relief to the taxpayers who footed the bill," said Perry. "Not one cent of more than $7 billion unspent by this legislature went to additional tax relief. Instead of leaving all that money in a government bank account, I believe we should have invested some of it in the economy through tax cuts."
As passed by the legislature, special items funding for agencies and institutions of higher education totaled $1.2 billion, or 19.5 percent of the total higher education general revenue funding. This means nearly one of every five dollars dedicated to higher education was spent outside the funding formulas on pet pork projects. Because special earmarks for local institutions often don't meet the statewide goals of our higher education system, Gov. Perry vetoed more than $35.8 million of the $123 million in earmarks that were disclosed as single line-items.
The budget for FY 2008-09 takes effect September 1, 2007.
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