The process of writing and passing the state budget for 2022-2023 has officially kicked off, with both the Texas House and Senate filing their base budgets to act as the starting point as the legislative session continues.
Passing a balanced budget is one of the only constitutionally mandated tasks of the state Legislature. This session, however, lawmakers have far less leeway than they have in previous years.
Earlier this month, Comptroller Glenn Hegar told lawmakers they would face a $1 billion shortfall, as well as a projected 0.4 percent decrease in general revenue, in light of the economic effects from coronavirus-related shutdowns.
To that end, both chambers were forced to keep their overall spending in check, leading to two similar starting points for the House and Senate.
Both chambers allocate $119.7 billion in general revenue spending, $3.2 billion less than the 7.06 percent spending limit adopted by the Legislative Budget Board in November 2020.
Neither budget relies on increased taxes or taps into the Economic Stabilization Fund, also known as the rainy-day fund.
“This is not the first time Texas has seen difficult economic times,” said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. “We are committed to maintaining our fiscal integrity using the conservative budget principles that will ensure Texas remains a job-creating engine for the nation and a major player in the global marketplace.”
Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan echoed Patrick, saying, “The decisions we make during the 87th Legislative Session will have lasting effects on the future of our state, which is why the House will work to improve our business climate, foster economic prosperity, and do what’s right for our students.”
Texans for Fiscal Responsibility said it was “encouraging to see lawmakers forgo tax increases and refrain from raiding the state’s savings account” in light of continued government-mandated shutdowns that negatively affect the state’s economy, but called on the lawmakers to go further to provide tax relief.
“Texas lawmakers should prioritize a full reopening of the economy and further regulatory and tax relief for hardworking taxpayers,” said TFR President Cary Cheshire.
The budget drafts can be viewed here: