Texas Budget Winners and Losers of 2015

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Border Spending

“The border funding was substantially increased, this time we ended up giving about $800 million to the border for border security, and I think that’s almost more than $300 million [more] than we did the last session.” — Rep. Sylvester Turner from Houston (D)

Medicaid Spending

Eva de Luna Castro, budget analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities, says the $61 billion legislators budgeted for the next two years of Medicaid almost certainly won’t be enough. “What basically happened was the full amount of cost for Medicaid isn’t in this budget that they passed–they left medical inflation out, so that’s like assuming that your rent isn’t going to go up in this year. You know it probably will be, but you just aren’t going to deal with it right now.”

Correctional Officers

Turner says they were big winners. “They received a pay boost of 8.8 percent,” he says. “That was certainly needed, because the prison system has been facing a vacancy rate of anywhere between 3,000 to 3,500 correctional officers mainly because we have not been able to compete with the private sector.”

Transportation

Dale Craymer, president of the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association, says the legislature funded the Department of Public Safety with general revenue and left gasoline tax revenues for the Department of Transportation to maintain the roads. But…

“…Well, I mean, it’s an additional $1 billion a year in roads which is a good thing, however TxDOT estimates they need anywhere from $3 to $5 million additional each year just to maintain the current level of congestion.”

Tax Cuts
It’s a mixed bag depending on who you ask.

“Tax cuts will have a good impact,” Craymer says. “Puts more money in people’s pockets that helps stimulate the economy.”

But de Luna says the cuts are a bad thing. “If you looked at where the tax cuts—where the benefit goes—the franchise tax, for example, was about $2.6 billion of that roughly $4 billion in tax cuts that the legislature made,” de Luna says. “A third of that franchise tax cut goes to out-of-state. It doesn’t even help companies here in Texas.”

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