Editorials

House, Senate budgets show friction points

THE EDITORIAL BOARD

State senators, left to right, Robert Nichols, Juan Hinojosa, Jane Nelson and John Whitmire listen to Texas State Comptroller Glenn Hegar testify about the effects of declining oil prices on the state budget at a Jan. 26, 2016, hearing of the Senate Finance Committee at the Capitol in Austin.
State senators, left to right, Robert Nichols, Juan Hinojosa, Jane Nelson and John Whitmire listen to Texas State Comptroller Glenn Hegar testify about the effects of declining oil prices on the state budget at a Jan. 26, 2016, hearing of the Senate Finance Committee at the Capitol in Austin. AP

Initial House and Senate budgets released Tuesday show not only a $5.3 billion difference in general state spending for the 2018-19 biennium but sharply different approaches to paying for public education, Medicaid services and border security.

With the five-month legislative session still in its beginning days, it’s far too early to say how these differences will play out. But the initial plans show where some of the friction points will be.

The Senate Finance Committee’s $213.4 billion budget includes $103.6 billion from the General Fund, the source of most discretionary spending.

The House Appropriations Committee has a $221.3 billion plan, $108.9 billion of it from the General Fund.

The House proposal is significantly higher than Comptroller Glenn Hegar’s $104.9 billion estimate of what will be available in the General Fund.

That means the House might opt to draw money from the $11.9 billion Rainy Day Fund.

The House would spend $1.5 billion more than the Senate on public education.

The Senate allocates $4.3 billion less than the House for Medicaid client services, acknowledging that it doesn’t fully pay for projected caseload growth.

The Senate would spend $143.1 million to hire and deploy an additional 250 state troopers and 126 support workers for border security efforts, similar to the numbers added two years ago. The additional increase is not reflected in this year’s House plan.

A final budget is due before the session ends May 29.

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