Texas House Budget: The Day After

As the dust settles on the 17-hour HB 1 debate in the Texas House, it’s worth noting what made it into the final House budget proposal, what didn’t, and what the key takeaways were.
Journalists and spectators have already said plenty about the purely political or ideologically driven attacks on everything from public transit to HIV prevention.
Lost in the shuffle are the dozens of missed opportunities that lawmakers had to recommend smart investments that would have moved us closer to a Texas where everyone is healthy, well-educated, and financially secure.
Failing to add General Revenue outright – and not just in Article XI – for everything from Pre-K to child protective services means that it’s the people of Texas who will lose out. And it’s clear from early drafts that the Texas Senate’s draft budget will do even less in most areas to invest in Texas’ future.
I was struck by the repeated assertions by House leaders that – as important as some of the proposed amendments were – there was simply not enough money available to fund them. Well, when you reserve billions for unspecified tax cuts, make a half a billion dollars for border security “off limits,” and leave unspent $2 billion of available revenue beneath the arbitrary spending cap, then it’s easy to claim there’s not enough money. And there’s still another $11 billion in the Rainy Day Fund that House leaders are choosing not to invest.
The House budget emerged from the floor debate without accounting for cost increases in health and human services, fully restoring state aid for public education or other things a more responsible budget would do. Tuesday night was a long and sleep-deprived evening for those of us who followed the House budget debate. But it’s the missed opportunities that won’t let us rest easy in the weeks ahead — not as long as there’s still a chance to improve the final outcome.

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