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Government/Politics

House and Senate Put State Budget To Bed

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Ryan E. Poppe
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The last weekend this session at the Texas Legislature.

The budget that funds the next two years of state services is on its way to the governor’s desk.  The $209 billion budget passed the House and Senate with some grumbling about what did and didn’t make the cut.

This session’s budget is 3 percent higher than what was passed in 2013. One of the things it provides is $800 million for the state’s operations along the border, which includes funding to keep National Guard troops and DPS troopers on the border.

While lawmakers managed to increase transportation funding by $3.7 billion and are paying down some of the state’s debt, some in the Legislature are not happy about what is being left on the table.  

Tyler Republican Sen. Kevin Eltife passionately objected to the problems he said the Legislature was leaving behind. “Under new leadership in this state, we’re admitting we have a problem and we’re starting to solve problems. Finally leadership that will stand up and say, 'fix things' after 10 years of neglect. So no, I’m not going to go home and sugarcoat it. If we don’t continue to talk about the problems, we will never fix the problems,” Eltife told his colleagues while speaking from the Senate floor.

Eltife said this budget was still $2.5 billion short in road funding.

The House’s Chief Budget Writer, John Otto, said fixing issues like transportation funding would take time. “There’s a limit to what you can do and I would point out the following biennium, the bill that Sen. Nichols and Chairman Picket, the constitutional amendment that’s going to go out there is going to bring another $2.5 billion per year.  So I think there were great strides made,” Otto explained.

Both the House and Senate approved the two-year budget, which now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk to be signed into law.