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Texas' proposed budget tackles property taxes, border security

Gabriel C. Pérez
The Texas Legislature is back in session and will soon consider the draft spending proposals for the next biennium.

The Texas House and Senate released their spending proposals on Wednesday for the next biennium, and they include billions of dollars for property tax relief, border security and pay increases for certain public workers.

Both chambers are proposing an appropriation of $288.7 billion in state and federal funds and $130.1 billion in general revenue to spend over the next two years.

“The state’s commitment to fiscal responsibility has paid major dividends, and the Texas economy is booming,” Sen. Joan Huffman, the Republican chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, said in a statement.

The bills released are lawmakers’ first drafts, and drastic changes are expected to happen over the course of the legislative session. But it provides a clearer window into what lawmakers are marking as spending priorities.

Both chambers have tentatively earmarked $15 billion to provide property tax relief. That includes $3 billion to raise the homestead exemption from $40,000 to $70,000. The exemption reduces the taxable value of a homeowner's primary residence.

That has been a priority of the Republican-led Legislature and of Gov. Greg Abbott.

During Abbott’s inauguration speech on Tuesday, he alluded the state was going to give Texans the “largest” property tax cuts in the state’s history.

A reason why the state could provide such relief is due to its historic budget surplus of $32 billion.

The budget proposals also earmark nearly $5 billion to fund Abbott's border security initiatives, including Operation Lone Star.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, said in a statement the budget bill “keeps our promises to Texans and charts a course for our state’s continued prosperity.”

School safety and education

The budget bills filed Wednesday would also allocate $600 million to the Texas Education Agency to help school districts “in implementing school safety initiatives.”

The issue of school safety is as relevant as it has ever been. Next week will be the eight-month anniversary of a teenage gunman attacking Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, killing 21 people.

Meanwhile, the proposed appropriation for the Basic Allotment — the state’s per pupil funding — remains unchanged at $6,160.

Education advocates have been calling for an increase to the funding.

Earlier this month, Brian Woods, the superintendent of Northside Independent School District in San Antonio, told The Texas Newsroom raising the funding would give teachers, counselors, nurses and librarians an automatic pay increase.

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is the former Texas Capitol reporter for The Texas Newsroom.
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