While the Legislature addresses many important issues every session, there is only one bill that is constitutionally mandated: every legislature must pass a balanced budget that funds state government for the next two years.

This year, the budget will originate in the Senate and will be Senate Bill 1. Origination of the budget rotates between the House and Senate every session. The House and the Senate have both filed their beginning, or base budgets, and they are surprisingly similar in both the amount and priorities of each budget. This is not always the case, with versions of the budget routinely being billions apart and spending on different priorities. These differences are worked out as we move through the budget process and ultimately one, final version of the budget is sent to the governor.

I am pleased to inform you that both budgets are below the rate of inflation and population growth, which is the method we scrutinize to determine if there is growth in government spending. These budgets represent a 3 percent spending reduction based on that metric. It is always important to reduce government spending, but it is even more so in times when many are suffering from the pandemic.

This is not the time to increase government spending, and thus taxes. This is the time to limit government to its basic functions. In that spirit, I was pleased to see that both versions of the base budget include the funding for public education that was passed last session, while limiting the growth of property taxes. A quality public education is one of the rights guaranteed in the Texas Constitution, and I am proud to continue to work my colleagues to strengthen and improve our public education system.

I will keep you updated as the House and Senate work through the budget process, which takes several months and has many moving parts.

While the budget is the only bill we are required to pass, the Legislature addresses a myriad of issues each session. I want to encourage you to reach out to me about issues that are important to you or ideas for legislation that would help make Texas an even better place to live. I can be reached at (512)463-0556 or district9.paddie@house.state.tx.us.

In addition, my district director, Joe Buck Crisp, will be spending time each month in every county to meet with you about legislative concerns and to help with issues you may be having with the state government. Please contact our Marshall office at (903) 935-1141 to find out when he will be in your town.

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Rep. Chris Paddie represents Cass, Harrison, Marion, Panola, Sabine and Shelby Counties in the Texas House of Representatives. His weekly Capitol Update column will run during the current Texas Legislature session.