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Government/Politics

Senate’s Proposed Budget Includes $4 Billion In Tax Cuts

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Ryan E. Poppe
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The Texas Senate leaders’ proposed state budget released this week goes the extra mile on items like border security and tax cuts, and aims to spend 6 percent more than what was budgeted for in 2013.

Despite an overwhelming number of Tea Party Republicans in the Senate and the Senate Finance Committee Chairperson, Jane Nelson, being a fiscal conservative, Nelson’s budget bill is actually $3 billion more than a budget proposal in the Texas House.  

Just to get an idea of how the budget has changed throughout the session, there was an estimated $120 billion difference from the House’s budget proposal at the start of the session and the budget that was finally approved by lawmakers at the end of the 2013 session.  

The plan provides $205 billion in total funds that lawmakers would have this session to write for a two-year budget. A big component of Nelson’s proposal is $4 billion dedicated to tax cuts, which includes $3 billion in school property tax relief for homeowners. It’s a plan that was touted by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on the campaign trail. 

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Credit Ryan E. Poppe
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Lt Gov Dan Patrick presiding over the Senate chambers.

“We actually want people to feel it,” said Nelson.

Standing behind Nelson, Patrick reaffirmed, “Yeah, real tax relief now and bringing down the value increases for the future.”

And that $4 billion in tax relief is the biggest difference between the House and Senate budgets thus far, keeping in mind that the House budget doesn’t include any tax cuts. 

Nelson’s budget doubles the amount of money the state is currently spending on border security.  It also keeps the same funding formula currently being used for public schools, while adding just over $2 billion for increased student enrollment growth.

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Credit Ryan E. Poppe
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Texas Public Radio
San Antonio Democratic Sen Carlos Uresti is a new member of the Senate Finance Committee

  Democratic Sen. Carlos Uresti of San Antonio, who is new to the Senate Finance Committee, said he was comfortable with providing homeowner’s tax cuts as long as it did not affect how the state funded public education, transportation or family and protective services. “Well it’s a great start, you know we are a growing state. Every day, hundreds of people are coming to Texas and we can’t say, ‘we’re open for business, come to Texas’ and not be prepared to educate their kid,” said Uresti.

But Uresti would also like to see more money dedicated to fixing the reporting problems seen within state’s foster care system.

Part of Nelson’s plan continues to defund the State’s Public Integrity Unit until it is moved out of the Travis County District Attorney’s office. In her opinion, that office is too political and left leaning. The bill would also defund the Texas Racing Commission because of action taken by the Commission to legalize historic racing without consulting the Legislature.

Nelson and the members of the Senate’s Finance Committee will began ironing out details of the plan when they begin meeting for the first time later this week.