Senate committee unanimously passes state budget bill
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In a unanimous vote, the Texas’ Senate Finance Committee passed its budget recommendations forward Wednesday.
The $94.1 billion bill emphasizes funding for mental health and education. It’s now ready to go before the full Senate for a vote.
“I'm very excited. I think it addresses a lot of our priorities in the state," Republican Sen. Tommy Williams, chairman of the committee, said. "There's over $270 million dollars across several articles in the budget to try to address mental health needs in the budget. Also, we fully funded enrollment growth in public education."
The bill also allocates $1.5 billion dollars to pre-kindergarten programs.
Democratic Sen. John Whitmire says while the budget is good overall, it still lacks in some areas.
"It's not the budget I would write if I were by myself," Sen. Whitmire said. “Still haven't placed enough back in education, some of the Medicaid still need additional monies."
On a high note, Sen. Whitmire says the bill does a good job funding public safety.
And this time around, there's a strong sense of bipartisan support for the legislation.
"Two years ago we weren't getting along around here and we still have our differences, but as it comes to the budget, half the senate sits on the finance committee and for it to pass 15 to 0 means we've built a consensus," Sen. Whitmire said.
There are a few priority items this session that are not included in the budget, most notably funding for water projects and state highways. Separate pieces of legislation are expected to address the funding needs in those areas.
The budget will be brought to the Senate floor for debate and a vote next Wednesday.