April 7, 2023- The Texas House on Thursday approved a historic $302.6 billion state budget spending plan for the next two years, this budget would bring pay raises to state employees, as well as tax cuts and more mental health services to millions of residents.
The plan pushes some $136.9 billion in general revenue to some of the state GOP leadership’s biggest priorities for the next two years, this includes $17.5 billion for property tax cuts, $5 billion in new money for schools as well as $4.6 billion on border security.
The budget plan also leaves tens of billions of dollars in unspent revenue available to them after record-breaking tax collections. this includes a $37.2 billion surplus higher than the entire budget of 24 states.
House Bill 1 passed on a vote of 136-10, with a handful of Democrats and two Republicans, Rep. Tony Tinderholt of Arlington and Rep. Brian Harrison of Midlothian, voting against it.
Lawmakers who voted against the budget bill stated reasons that included too little cash for public schools and teachers, as well as a ban on diversity, equity and inclusion programs.
House members also approved on a 147-1 vote for a $14 billion emergency spending bill for the current cycle that spends $1.6 billion on school safety, $3.5 billion for cost-of-living pension increases for retired teachers, $400 million for flood mitigation projects and $1.5 billion for the Texas Semiconductor Innovation Fund.
The budget bill also includes a pay raise for teachers, but Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, the House Democratic Caucus chair, pushed for another $4 billion to raise it from about $3,800 per teacher to $10,000 over the next two years. The effort went down on a 79-66 party-line vote.
Thursday’s House debate was one of the shortest floor debates on the budget in recent Texas House memory, finishing up after only about 10 hours. Historically, it starts early in the day and lasts well past midnight
House members also approved $402 million to stabilize the state’s juvenile justice system and $343.8 million to install air conditioning in the state’s prisons.