Prioritizing State Funding

February 24, 2017

By Rep. John Kuempel

The State of Texas is facing a tight budget this biennium. Comptroller Hegar issued his budget revenue estimate to the legislature in early January with a total of $104.87 billion available to build budgets for 2018 and 2019. That is approximately $3 billion less than what was available in 2016 and 2017 when the total revenue available for general spending was $107.73 billion. The decrease in money allocated for general spending is not due to a drop in the amount of money coming in, in fact, the Comptroller is projecting revenue growth. However, the state will start budgeting with less money as some of it is already dedicated to other things.

In 2015, voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 7 to dedicate portions of revenue from the state’s general sales and use tax, as well as from the motor vehicle sales and rental tax to the State Highway Fund for non-tolled projects. A deposit of $5 billion is expected to be made over this biennium. While this infusion of money over the next biennium reduces what the legislature has to fund other programs, it is important to remember that the voters made investing in our state’s infrastructure a priority with the passage of Proposition 7 and we intend to follow through with that commitment.

Balancing the state budget will be challenging but that does not mean that money for public schools and foster care will be ignored. Working to improve the school finance system and reforming the broken state foster care system will be a top focus for the House this session. Texans expect their government to live within its means so it is imperative that we fund our priorities this session while constraining the size and growth of government.

As the Chairman of the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee, I plan to do my part to ensure fair and efficient regulation of all occupational licenses. The state oversees 38 licensing programs under the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation and a total license population of 704,154. With our state’s dynamic economic environment, it is vital that we reduce the administration and regulation costs and reduce barriers to entering into these licensed professions.

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