The Senate Finance Committee held its first public hearing of the legislative session on Monday.
According to a news release from Texas Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, the agenda included an overview of the Biennial Revenue Estimate by Comptroller Glenn Hegar; an overview of Senate Bill 1; and the appropriations bill by Jerry McGinty, director of the Legislative Budget Board.
The committee will also begin to hear from the heads of general government agencies.
“I’m looking forward to kicking off the budget writing process with our first hearing set for Monday at 10:00 a.m.,” Hinojosa said in the news release. “SB 1, as filed, is just a starting point. These public hearings are an opportunity for the members of the Committee to hear invited testimony from all state agencies and to get the public’s input on how our tax dollars should be allocated.”
Senate Bill 1 is a general appropriations bill.
Monday’s hearing is the first of many that will be held over the next several months to determine how the surplus revenue will be spent for the 2024 and 2025 fiscal years.
The All Funds budget, which includes federal funds, is $288.7 billion, including the $130.1 billion in General Fund (state) dollars — an increase of $11.9 billion from the previous session.
“This means that we are still $4 billion below the spending limit, which was adopted in November 2022, and $17.1 billion below the Consolidated General Revenue Limit,” Hinojosa said. “On top of that, we have an estimated $5.4 billion of the federal American Rescue Plan Act funds remaining to be allocated.”
According to the news release, the proposed budget already includes $15 billion for property tax relief, of which $3 billion will be used to increase the homestead exemption from $40,000 to $70,000.
The budget also includes $650 million for community colleges to increase student performance and workforce training, $600 million for school safety initiatives, as well as billions of dollars for agencies to support mental health initiatives, and salary increases for state employees.
“I remain committed to using this opportunity with historic revenues to provide property tax relief, increasing salaries for teachers, state employees, and peace officers,” Hinojosa said. “I also look forward to supporting our retired teachers and investing in our roads, broadband, water and drainage infrastructure, and the electric grid. I encourage the members of the public to attend the hearings to provide input as we move forward with the budget writing process.”
Hinojosa currently serves as vice chair of The Senate Finance Committee. State Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, continues to lead the committee since her appointment as chair in Jan. 2022.
The House of Representatives will soon appoint members to the House Appropriations Committee. When organized, House Appropriations will undergo a similar process hearing from all state agencies and also seeking input from the public.
The Senate Finance Committee has public hearings scheduled on SB 1 from Monday through Friday, Feb. 17.
To find a comprehensive list of bills filed — and the status of those bills — visit MyRGV.com and click the 88th Texas Legislative Session tab, which has an interactive spreadsheet and a comprehensive list of AIM Media Texas’ legislative coverage.