This commentary originally appeared in the Austin American-Statesman on February 24, 2015.

With the initial budgets filed by the Senate and House, the 84th Texas Legislature can begin the important discussions of how best to fund the needs of Texans with as few taxpayer dollars as possible. Though these budgets differ, both chambers’ recommendations are serious about limiting spending to leave room for tax relief.

Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, said recently that the Senate budget “contains significant tax relief, returning dollars to those who earned it in the first place. It will jump start highway projects and ensure that funding meant for roads are not diverted for other purposes. SB 2 doubles our commitment to a secure border, prioritizes education and meets our commitment to Texans who rely on health and human services.”

Similarly, House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, noted the House budget is “serious about fiscal discipline.” He continued, “We are able to hold spending in check while addressing some very important challenges related to our rapid growth.”

Under their leadership, lawmakers are putting Texans’ best interest in their initial budgets by limiting the footprint of state government, thereby holding taxes and fees low, so those from all walks of life have the best opportunity to succeed.

As evidence of their fiscal prudence, the Senate’s initial 2016-17 budget is an increase of a modest 1.5 percent to $205.1 billion, and the House’s budget increases by only 0.2 percent to $202.4 billion. These recommended budgets are now the basis of future funding decisions throughout the legislative process.

We commend lawmakers for holding their budgets below $217.1 billion based on population growth plus inflation of 6.5 percent, a figure marked as a maximum for a conservative budget this session by 15 members of the Conservative Texas Budget Coalition.

Regarding education, both budgets fully fund student enrollment growth, with the Senate recommending a 5.8 percent increase and the House a 3.7 percent increase. These increases, along with education reforms under consideration, will help meet the demands of a high growth state and better prepare Texas children for future success.

Regarding transportation, both budgets prioritize funding to reduce congestion and repair worn roads. They add an additional $1.2 billion by ending transportation-related funding diversions that currently go to other areas of the budget. Coupled with the voter-approved measure of $2.6 billion in oil and gas revenue last November and making contracting reforms, Texas can better meet the needs of a growing Texas economy and population dependent on quality roads and infrastructure.

These budgets address the issue of border security — something that the federal government has been unwilling to do — by allocating funds to meet their targets without dipping into other areas of the budget. The Senate bill allocates $815.2 million, and the House budgets $396.8 million. While these amounts are substantially different, they drastically increase current funding to attempt to accomplish what the federal government has failed to do so far.

By effectively limiting spending, we applaud the Senate for including $4 billion in tax cuts in their proposal. More money in the pockets of Texans is the best path to fueling job creation. While the House’s initial budget doesn’t include tax relief, it does limit the budget such that lawmakers have plenty of opportunity to discuss the best way to provide substantial tax relief.

Heflin is the director for the Center for Fiscal Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.