This week, State Representative Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) voted in favor of House Bill 1, as it passed out of the House Appropriations Committee after more than six weeks of legislative hearings. Rep. Ashby joined his fellow budget writers in unanimously approving the proposed budget, which comes in more than $2 billion under the state’s constitutional spending cap.
“This is a fiscally conservative budget that Texans can be proud to see come out of this committee, and one that I’m proud to vote for,” Rep. Ashby said. “Not only does the $209.8 billion come in well under the spending cap, but it also adequately funds the programs that mean the most to East Texans, while leaving $8.4 billion of the state’s funds unspent.”
Rep. Ashby noted that the under the leadership of Chairman John Otto (R-Dayton), the Appropriations Committee was able to produce a budget proposal that addresses the needs of Texas, while also providing room for negotiation and compromise as the legislative session continues.
“We were able to make prudent financial decisions, while maintaining fiscal discipline in the appropriation of these funds,” Rep. Ashby said. “During the process there were many worthwhile areas of need, as well as many hard decisions that had to be made. I know this is far from being final, and there is still work to be done including funding our Texas Heritage Trails Program, but I am confident that in the coming weeks the Legislature will be able to pass a budget that lives within our means and reflects the priorities of our great state.”
The proposed budget guarantees funding for the state’s most basic and necessary functions, as well as increasing spending on education, transportation and health and human services. Additionally, the proposal seeks to shore up financial woes in the state’s health program for retired teachers, while also meeting the unique demands of having to secure an international border.
“This budget significantly increases funding for the Department of Public Safety in order to continue the fight for our state’s border safety,” Rep. Ashby said. “The budget seeks to fund 300 additional DPS troopers at the border, as well as increased security efforts on the part of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Association and the Department of Criminal Justice.”
Rep. Ashby added that along with a “reasonable and responsible” budget, Texans can also be pleased with the state’s Rainy Day Fund balance, which is estimated to grow to more than $11 billion by the end of the next biennium.
The proposed budget will be debated and voted on by the full 150-member House next week.