House committee passes budget with school funding bump
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In a unanimous vote Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee passed a $193.8 billion state budget proposal.
Moments before the committee gave the bill the green light, $1 billion was added to public education funding, bringing the total for education to $ 2.5 billion more than what was allotted last session.
"When you look at this bill as a whole, it is a very sound bill and I think it's a very good bill,” Democratic Rep. Sylvester Turner said. “It's a bill that reflects us doing what we can with what we have available."
Most notable is the $2.5 billion for education, a billion dollars more than the proposed Senate budget.
"The house can be very proud of what they've been able to restore to public education in this bill and the bills we've been working on," Republican Rep. John Otto said.
Even the House budget won't restore all of the $5.4 billion slashed from public education during the last legislative session, nor does it fully restore the cuts made to other state agencies, but committee chairman Republican Rep. Jim Pitts says the bill wasn’t intended to do that.
"We have not replaced every dollar that was cut during the last legislative session,” Pitts said. "During the last two years, agencies have had great success in finding better efficiencies in finding services to citizens and reducing unnecessary administrative costs."
The bill provides significant funding for mental health and substance abuse programs—another priority outlined by lawmakers at the beginning of the year.
In addition, the budget bill doesn't touch the Rainy Day Fund which is expected to hit $12 billion dollars by the end of this biennium.
The House is scheduled to take its budget to the floor for a full vote in two weeks.