With only two Democrats voting against the Texas Senate’s budget, the budget conversation continues, with the Texas House deciding on their budget in the near future. A conference committee will even out things between both budgets after all is said is done.
There’s been mixed reaction on the Dem side of things. Earlier in the day, I read a teacher’s union letter asking folks to call their respective senators to tell them to vote no. Although there is a slight increase in the budget for K-12 and higher education, it doesn’t come close to replacing what was cut two years ago. And, apparently, Annie’s List supports the Senators who voted no, Fort Worth’s Wendy Davis and Houston’s Sylvia R. Garcia.
Among other things, the proposed budget:
Under-funds public education by $3.9 billion
Funds public education at the lowest levels per student in two legislative sessions
Fails to include $310 million that would guarantee $7.7 billion in federal funds for Medicaid
Leaves money sitting untouched in Rick Perry’s pet project, the Rainy Day Fund
Other Democrats have released statements to back up their support of the SB 1, including one of my favorites, El Paso’s Jose Rodriguez:
Senate Bill 1 is an improvement from the last budget cycle. It contains items that are important for Senate District 29, such as tuition revenue bonds for UTEP and Texas Tech, as well as items that positively impact the state as a whole. This budget increases Medicaid reimbursement rates to pre-2011 levels, and overall spending on mental health services and graduate medical education. These funding increases will help increase access to care in a state with highest uninsured rate in the nation.
Nonetheless, this budget neither fully restores the cuts from 2011 nor adequately funds for population growth and inflation. For example, El Paso schools will only gain about a quarter back from what they lost in 2011. It also doesn’t expand Medicaid, which is fiscally irresponsible.
The good news is that we are still in the beginning stages of the budget process, and there will be several opportunities to fund these priorities as the session continues. I will continue to work to advance the ball on education and to find a solution to the Medicaid expansion stalemate.
Rodriguez pointed to alternative ways to fill those other voids, as did State Senator Leticia Van de Putte.
Senate Bill 1 is not a perfect budget, but I voted in favor of it because it at least moves our state in the right direction. As the legislative session progresses, I will be looking for other opportunities to restore funding that was cut in the previous session.
So, there you have it. As far as I’m concerned, I’m caught in between both sides of the “moving forward” and “just plain no” sides of this as I like that higher education has gotten a lot more than I would have expected after losing a billion dollars two years ago.
Let’s see where the less cooperative Texas House lands on this.
UPDATE: ProgressTexas joins in on supporting 2 Senators who voted NO on budget.
Thankfully, two of our strongest Senators listened to your calls, stood up for what is right, and demanded we fight for the best possible future for Texas.
Help us thank Senators Wendy Davis and Sylvia Garcia for voting against this draft of the budget and showing they believe we should invest in the future of our state. We hope you will show your support for Senators Davis and Garcia today by calling them in their office or going to social media to show your support:
Wendy Davis – call her office to say thanks at (512) 463-0110
Sylvia Garcia – call her office to say thanks at (512) 463-0106
Kuff has a whole bunch more, including Senator Wendy Davis’ statement.