Texa Border Business
By State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa
House Bill 1, the General Appropriations Act for the 2024-2025 biennium, has officially come into effect. This budget, totaling $321 billion in All Funds for the next two years, surpasses the previous Appropriations Act by $18 billion. HB 1 follows the implementation of Senate Bill 30, the Supplemental Appropriations Bill, which became effective in June and included a total of $13.2 billion in appropriations.
HB 1 provides nearly $18 billion in property tax relief contingent on voter approval later this year. It provides an increase of $3.2 billion to the Foundation School Program to fund projected enrollment growth in our public schools, and also sets aside $5 billion for teacher salary increases and other educational priorities. With school safety a priority for the Texas Legislature, $1.4 billion has been added for school safety measures. The budget also includes $1.6 billion for a one-time supplemental payment (or 13th check) for certain Teacher Retirement System retirees and $3.4 billion for a cost-of-living adjustment for retired teachers. Funding for some of these items is contingent on the passage of constitutional amendments or the passage of legislation in an upcoming special session.
To ensure that the state remains competitive, investing in our institutions of higher education and our growing workforce remained a priority throughout the budget-writing process. HB 1 provides for increased funding towards our general academic universities ($4.8 billion) and public junior colleges ($2.2 billion). As our state population grows, so does the need for a robust healthcare workforce. HB 1 includes $233 million for graduate medical education and over $124 million for other healthcare staffing programs.
Other statewide highlights include funding of nearly $81 billion for the Texas Medicaid Program; $9.4 billion in funding for mental health care including $280.5 million to fully fund the Texas Child Mental Health Consortium; $2 billion to raise base wages for Medicaid community attendants; $5 billion for electric generation facilities; $1.5 billion for broadband infrastructure; $1 billion for water infrastructure projects; and $1 billion for state parks.
HB 1 and SB 30 also include significant investments for the Rio Grande Valley in Senate District 20. Budget highlights include:
· $12 million for the UTRGV School of Medicine Podiatric Specialty Medicine Program.
· $25 million for the Texas A&M Health Science Center to construct an education and research facility at the Texas A&M Higher Education Center in McAllen.
· $20 million for the Pharr International Bridge.
· $10 million for the South Texas International Airport for infrastructure upgrades.
· $5 million for the Mid-Valley Airport in Weslaco for a hangar expansion.
· $3 million in grants for Border Zone Fire Departments. This is an increase of $2 million from the previous budget.
· $120 million to construct a 50-bed state hospital maximum security facility in the Rio Grande Valley.
· $85 million for the construction of up to 100 inpatient beds for a hospital in the Rio Grande Valley.
· Up to $10 million in funds for the Raymondville Drain Project.
· $625,000 for the City of La Joya park renovations.
· $500,000 for the Texas Transnational Intelligence Center in McAllen.