Provided by the Texas Tribune
Gov. Greg Abbott signed the state’s roughly $250 billion budget Saturday, bringing a session-long effort to address the Legislature’s top priorities — school funding and property taxes — to a close.
A spokesman for Abbott confirmed that the governor signed the budget without issuing a single line-item veto, a mechanism that allows him to shrink the budget where he sees fit.
The 2020-21 budget, which state lawmakers approved in May, includes a significant boost in spending compared with two years ago. Lawmakers had billions of dollars more to spend thanks to a positive economic forecast and revised revenue estimates from oil and natural gas production taxes. Total spending is up 16% from the budget the Legislature approved in 2017.
Much of that extra money went to state leadership’s two two legislative priorities for 2019. Abbott has already approved a $11.6 billion school finance package that doled out $6.5 billion in new schools spending and $5.1 billion to buy down Texans’ property tax bills. In total, the state budget spends $94.5 billion on education, which includes funding for public schools and universities. Not including tax break funds, the Legislative Budget Board calculates that the education portion of the budget grew 10%.
Other portions of the budget didn’t see as much growth. The $84 billion for health and human services programs is up just 1% from the last two-year cycle, and Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor and disabled, is facing a $900 million cut.
For the 2020-21 budget, lawmakers didn’t use money from the state’s savings account, known as the Economic Stabilization Fund or “rainy day” fund. Instead, they authorized an unprecedented $6.1 billion withdrawal from the fund that can be used in a “supplemental” budget that covers unpaid bills from the last budget cycle. That money will go toward Hurricane Harvey recovery funds for school districts, future disaster preparedness and leftover Medicaid expenses, among other uses.
After the 2017 legislative session, Abbott signed off on the Legislature’s $217 billion budget but vetoed $120 million in funding for various programs, like funds for impoverished communities on the Mexico-Texas border, and the Low-Income Vehicle Repair Assistance Program, which attempted to cut down the state’s emission levels.
Also Saturday, Abbott vetoed dozens of bills that had passed the Legislature. Those follow seven vetoes that he had made earlier.
Here’s a look at the bills that Abbott vetoed Saturday:
HB 51 — Relating to the creation and promulgation of certain standard forms for statewide use in criminal actions.
HB 70 — Relating to a strategic plan goal by the Department of Agriculture to prevent crop diseases and plant pests in this state.
HB 93 — Relating to the inclusion of a magistrate’s name on certain signed orders.
HB 109 — Relating to the operation of open-enrollment charter schools on Memorial Day.