Today, the Texas Senate passed their version of the Committee Substitute for House Bill (CSHB) 1, otherwise known as the 2016-17 budget. The Senate’s budget appropriates $1.6 billion more tax dollars than the House did two weeks ago. But it is well below the 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.

Table 1 presents a comparison of both chambers’ versions of the budget relative to the estimated 2014-15 expenditures.

Table 1: Texas House and Senate Versions of the 2016-17 Total Budget are Below 6.5%

Note: Figures presented in millions of dollars.

Several differences of many between the two versions include:

  • The Senate places a higher priority on the maintenance and repair of state facilities
  • The Senate’s property tax relief plan requires additional public school funding to hold local school districts harmless from the property tax relief plan
  • The House provides more funds to the Texas Department of Transportation for highway construction and maintenance
  • The House provides a higher level of funding to Health and Human Services
  • The Senate appropriates more money to the Department of Public Safety to keep the National Guard deployed along Texas’ southern border

While both all funds totals are under the 6.5 percent conservative recommendation, Table 2 shows the Senate’s version of state funds is slightly higher. General revenue under both versions is higher than this recommendation. These are areas to watch moving forward.

Table 2: Comparison of Major Revenue Sources

Notes: Figures presented in millions of dollars. Percent changes from previous period in parentheses.

These versions of the budget will now go to Conference where a select group of legislators from both the House and Senate will iron out the differences to fund the needs of Texans while providing substantial tax relief.