Senate Approves Budget Cuts To Public and Higher Education | Texas Public Radio

Senate Approves Budget Cuts To Public and Higher Education

Mar 29, 2017

Lawmakers in the Texas Senate have passed a two-year budget that would require local property owners to pay a bigger chunk of the public education tab.  It's a budget that seems on a direct collision course with House's budget.

The Senate’s proposal to spend $106 billion in state revenue increases the amount of money for Child Protective Services which a federal judge has ordered the state to improve.  It increases Texas Grant scholarships to low income college students, but directly cuts funding to universities by at least 6 percent and reduces the amount of state money for public education. 

The Senate’s chief budget writer, Jane Nelson  justified the school cuts saying rising local property values will allow school districts to fill the gap.

Sen. Jane Nelson, Chair of the Senate's Finance Committee
Credit Ryan Poppe

“Under formula the local share of education funding fills up the bucket first, as local property tax collections goes up, the state share goes down," Nelson explains.

Senators also chose not to restore Medicaid cuts that cover in-home therapy for special needs children, a big disappointment for  San Antonio Democrat, Jose Menendez.

Sen. Jose Menendez, D-San Antonio
Credit Ryan Poppe

“I know for a fact, two years ago when we passed the budget that no one here thought anyone would lose their therapies, as the process moves forward is there anything we can do to insure that that is not the case," Menendez says.

The House's budget is expected to more generously fund public education and state services like mental health.  It could be approved next week.   

Elected officials in the House and Senate will then have to arm wrestle a compromise.