The House Appropriations Committee takes care of business.
House budget writers today backed a $178.4 billion, two-year state budget that would give a $1,000 bonus to state government employees [who make less than $100,000 a year], retired teachers and retired state employees.
It would give more to college grants than the Senate budget proposal approved last week. Unlike the Senate measure, it also would definitively provide for funding an expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program if separate legislation passes (the Senate would give a CHIP expansion a chance at funding).
At the same time, the House committee proposal is nearly $4 billion less than the $182.2 billion Senate measure.
Among key differences, the House measure gives about $2 billion less for road bonds and less for cancer bonds, said Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie. It also has a far lower estimate for Medicaid costs and caseloads, making up the bulk of the difference.
The House bill also would put tighter strings on trust funds overseen by Gov. Rick Perry, who stirred Pitts’ ire when he engineered a $50 million transfer from the enterprise fund to the emerging technology fund for a Texas A&M University System biotecnology center.
As you know, I thought the Senate budget wasn’t too bad, certainly a lot better than I thought it would be coming into the session. From what I see here, the House budget improves on it, though I’m leery of the lower cost estimate for Medicaid. Still, more for CHIP and tighter controls on Governor Perry’s slush fund – what’s not to like about those things?
Floor Pass, which says the whole House will debate the budget bill on April 17, has more.
The House’s version includes $11 billion in federal stimulus funds. But wait! Wasn’t Texas supposed to get, like, $16 billion? Calm down there, pardner. Some of the stimulus funds flow directly from the feds for local appropriation and some of the stimulus funds have been appropriated to the 2008 – 09 biennium, as some of the money will already have been spent by the end of this year.
More details on the budget will be forthcoming soon. Is it possible that this won’t represent the biggest battle of the session? I’m not sure what that would say about this session if it turns out to be the case. Postcards has more.
UPDATE: BOR says the budget process is proceeding in at least as timely a manner as it did in 2007, but it could still get derailed.