In the waning days of the 2015 Texas Legislative Session, the Conference Committee is in the process of resolving differences the two chambers’ versions of the 2016-17 Texas budget before sine die on June 1. Though much could happen before then, there is a good opportunity for legislators to pass a conservative budget.
Comparing the two versions, the Senate’s appropriates $1.6 billion more in all funds than the House primarily because the Senate includes their tax cut proposal while the House does not.
Both versions of the total budget are well below the suggested 6.5 percent recommended increase that’s based on population growth plus inflation supported by the Texas Public Policy Foundation and 14 other members of the Conservative Texas Budget Coalition.
At this stage, we are encouraged that both the House and Senate versions of the total budget meet the needs of Texans while reserving funds for substantial tax relief. This is the best combination to enhance liberty and prosperity in Texas.
The following three tables in the Foundation’s latest publication The 2016-17 Texas Budget provide comparisons of appropriations by both chambers for all funds, state funds, and general revenue funds, respectively. The Legislative Budget Board also provides a budget comparison summary and differences between each Article.
Table 1: Increases in House & Senate Versions of the 2016-17 All Funds Budget are Below 6.5%
Table 2: House & Senate Versions of 2016-17 State Funds Increase Around 6.5%
Table 3: General Revenue Funds Increase by More than 6.5% in Both Chambers’ Versions
While both all funds totals are under the 6.5 percent conservative recommendation, Table 4 presents evidence that it will be important for the conferees to hold the line in spending in state funds to keep the increase within Texans’ ability to support it. There will also need to be a close eye on how to slow the growth of general revenue funds as legislators have the most control of these taxpayer dollars and feed into growth in other areas of the budget.
Table 4: Comparison of Major Revenue Sources Show Largest Increases in General Revenue
Notes: Figures presented in millions of dollars. Percent changes from previous period in parentheses.
Knowing where your taxpayer dollars go is important. After fully funding the needs of Texans, it’s important that the conferees and both chambers pass a budget that’s within population growth plus inflation while providing historic tax relief.