Behind closed doors at the Texas Capitol, Texas lawmakers spent weeks negotiating which public programs should receive funding — and how much — in 2020 and 2021.
Here’s how budget writers worked out key differences over how to spend the state’s anticipated surplus. Including public schools, teacher salaries, women’s health, prison guard pay and more, we’ve laid out some of the biggest spending priorities to see how lawmakers compromised before sending a final version to Gov. Greg Abbott , who over the next few weeks may veto individual line-items he objects to. These figures come from the Legislative Budget Board.
While Hurricane Harvey recovery funds for school districts and future disaster preparedness are big-ticket spending items this session, they are not included in this analysis because they are mostly included in a “supplemental” budget that pays for leftover expenses from the 2017 legislative session.
Total 2020-21 state budget
- $251 billion.
- Doesn’t include any money from the state savings account.
After lawmakers agreed to further increase state spending on public education and property tax cuts, the budget ended up nearer to the House’s larger price tag. But lawmakers opted not to touch the Economic Stabilization Fund, the state’s savings account fed by oil and gas tax collections, in the 2020-21 budget. Instead, they authorized a record $6.1 billion withdrawal from the state savings account in a “supplemental” budget that pays for Hurricane Harvey recovery and infrastructure projects.
School funds and teacher pay
- $6.5 billion.
- To increase base funding for each student by $1,020 and let school districts determine staff pay raises.
In the end, lawmakers agreed to increase the price tag of the investment they were willing to make in the section of the budget governing public education and school property taxes.
The House and Senate had originally agreed to spend $9 billion in new state funds on schools and tax relief, but their final compromise came to around $11.6 billion. An earlier sticking point between the chambers was how much money to set aside for across-the-board teacher pay raises, but the final compromise aligned more with the House’s original proposal to give school districts flexibility to determine pay raises.
Lawmakers mandated, however, that 30 percent of a school district’s additional funding go toward pay raises for school employees, with priority given to teachers with more than five years of experience.
Property tax cuts
- $5 billion.
- An average 8-cent property tax rate cut in 2020 and 13-cent cut in 2021, without a sales tax increase.
After a proposal to raise the sales tax to pay for more sweeping property tax cuts failed at the Legislature, lawmakers opted to spend $5 billion in state funds on property tax cuts — well above the $2.7 billion they originally proposed.
Legislators say the $5 billion would lower tax rates by an average of 8 cents per $100 property valuation in 2020 and 13 cents in 2021. That would mean a tax cut of $200 for the owner of a $250,000 home in 2020 and $325 in 2021.
- $66.5 billion.
- Pays for new projected patients, requires cost cuts.
Lawmakers included in their final budget a proposal from the Senate to essentially cut $900 million from the federal-state health insurance program for the poor and disabled by ordering the state’s health commission to implement “cost containment.” The budget does not cover expected growth in Medicaid costs, meaning lawmakers will almost certainly have to pay for leftover bills in a supplemental budget when they reconvene in 2021.
Mental, behavioral health
- $4.4 billion.
- For programs outside of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Lawmakers compromised on mental health funding. They also included in the supplemental budget $445 million from the state savings account to construct new mental hospital beds, including a 100-bed unit at Rusk State Hospital, a 240-bed replacement campus of the Austin State Hospital and a 300-bed replacement campus of the San Antonio State Hospital.
Early childhood intervention
- $342 million.
- Partially funds the health agency’s request.
Budget writers landed in between the House and Senate’s proposed funding numbers for the state’s Early Childhood Intervention program, which provides services to Texas children younger than 3 years old with developmental delays or disabilities. The program received a $52 million increase compared with the previous two-year budget.
- $256 million.
- Restructures salaries, including pay raises for some, dependent on a reform bill being signed by Gov. Greg Abbott.
Lawmakers passed a bill that creates a tiered system of pay raises for certain judicial positions based on years of service. The bill does not increase the base pay of a district judge, but if Gov. Greg Abbott signs House Bill 2384, the budget includes an additional $34 million for judicial pay under the new system.
Prison guard and parole officer pay raises
- $84 million.
- Would pay for salary increases given out at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s discretion.
Budget writers ended up nearer to the Senate’s lower offer for prison guard and parole officer raises, but rather than offering an across-the-board 5 percent pay increase, the budget directs the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to restructure its career ladder and offer raises at it sees fit.
Community attendant pay
- $139 million.
- For a raise to attendants’ base wages and an “enhancement” program to improve pay for some attendants based on longevity.
Neither chamber came near the $389 million requested by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and Gov. Greg Abbott to provide a 50-cent increase to the base wage for community attendants who care for the elderly and people with disabilities. But rather than compromising, lawmakers opted to combine both the Senate and House recommendations on attendant pay, boosting care workers’ base wages and funding program to improve workers’ pay based on their years of experience.
Adult Protective Services pay raises
- $12.2 million.
- For salary increases and retention bonuses for some workers.
Budget writers landed in between the House and Senate’s proposed funding numbers for Adult Protective Services. The additional funding will pay for new hires to maintain the workers’ caseloads and pay for salary increases to improve retention.