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2013 Budget Bill Passes With Only Two Opposing Votes

Ryan Poppe | Texas Public Radio

Texas lawmakers approved a bill that replaces funds taken from public education and mental health providers but changes the structure of the state’s Medicaid.

The senate voted 29 to 2 in favor of the budget, with Senators Silvia Garcia, D-Houston, and Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, voting against the bill.

The Senate’s $94.1 billion spending bill for the 2013 session comes from the previous state budget and does not touch the Economic Stabilization Fund, more commonly known as the 'rainy day' fund. 

Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, chaired the committee in charge of the budget and told lawmakers he had concerns for the future of Texas.

"Medicaid is growing at least twice the rate as the rest of the budget and it is literally crowding out public education. Just the current program that we have now represents 30 percent of the state budget," Williams said.

The bill also includes $1.4 billion for public education programs, but that number is still less per pupil than the last two-year budget.

Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, said too much money was taken from education during the 2011 session, and because of that she would not be voting for the 2013 budget bill. 

"And though I did not come to that decision lightly, the reason for it is simple: I believe this budget fails Texas children," Davis said.

Another area of concern has been the amount set aside for transportation and new road project funding.

"We hear a lot of talk in Washington about the fiscal cliff, well we have a fiscal cliff here in Texas; it’s our highway funding," Williams said.

The budget calls for $4.4 million for transportation needs. After laying out the 2013 budget, Williams speculated that some of the additional money needed for roads could come from the rainy day fund.