The Texas House's top budget writer said Monday he'll file legislation that would boost funding for public schools and money to keep the state's Medicaid program in operation for the next two years.
State Rep. Jim Pitts, the Waxahachie Republican who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, said he'll file House Bill 1 on Tuesday. He described the measure as "a starting point" for a process that will likely last as long as the 140-day legislative session that began last week.
"The bill is a starting point for the session-long budget process," Pitts said in a news release. "It reflects the demands of a rapidly growing state, as well as the House's continued commitment to responsible fiscal leadership."
The bill would appropriate $187.7 billion, including money from the federal government allocated to Texas. if it passes intact and $6.8 billion is also appropriated to cover expenditures left over from the current budget cyclce, Pitts said the 2014-15 budget would be a $2.2 billion decrease from 2012-13.
"The filing of this budget will allow the House to formally begin a discussion about Texas' priorities," Pitts said. "This bill recognizes the demands of population growth on public schools and Medicaid, and steadfastly maintains the House's commitment to fiscal discipline."
On the Senate side, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Sen. Tommy Williams, the Houston-area Republican who heads the Senate Finance Committee, were expected to unveil their budget plan later Monday.
Dewhurst, a three-term Republican who leads the Senate, has said he wants to set the chamber on its most conservative course ever.
The budget typically consumes several weeks of committee hearings, negotiations with various interest groups and between the Senate, the House and the governor's office.
Highlights of the bill: