The Texas Legislature has approved a historically high budget of $321.3 billion — $70 billion more than the last biennial state budget.
The spending bill, which will fund the state’s operations for the next two years, was passed by the Texas Senate on Friday 29-2 before the House approved it in a 124-22 vote on Saturday.
As required by the state constitution, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar must verify that the budget is balanced before it can be sent to the governor for approval. Governor Greg Abbott will then have until June 18 to sign off on the budget. He also has the authority to remove any spending items he is not willing to approve.
The 2024-25 budget includes $321.3 billion in spending, while the 2022-23 budget was about $251 billion.
This 1,030-page budget, technically known as House Bill 1, allocates spending on tax cuts, border security, the power grid, infrastructure projects, state park expansions, and pay raises for state employees.
Some advocates have criticized the unprecedented spending levels in this budget, while lawmakers argue the spending is necessary.
Texans for Fiscal Responsibility President Tim Hardin said the budget would “greatly expand the size and scope of the Texas government,” as reported by Texas Scorecard.
“[Lawmakers] have proposed perhaps the largest increase in spending in Texas history [and] the potential revival of the biggest corporate welfare boondoggle in Texas history, increased bureaucrat salaries and their own pensions, and overly funded our woke higher education system and unaccountable government schools,” Hardin said. “Taxpayers simply deserve better.”
Meanwhile, Senate Finance Chair Joan Huffman (R-Houston) argued that the budget “addresses the diverse range of needs in our rapidly expanding state.”
“With the state experiencing a record-breaking surplus, increasing demands, and skyrocketing national inflation, crafting this budget was a challenge because we were obligated to stay under the spending limits and plan for population growth and downturns in the global economy,” said Huffman, per The Texas Tribune.
Derek Cohen, vice president of policy for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, took a more balanced approach when speaking to The Dallas Express but emphasized that these funds must be used efficiently.
“It does represent a large growth in spending,” Cohen said.
He suggested that, if the state is going to spend this much taxpayer money, some form of audit must be in place.
“There needs to be some sort of audit on the efficiency,” Cohen argued. “So long as we’re actually showing where the money is going and how it’s being used and isn’t being used efficiently.”
Cohen told The Dallas Express it would “be a failure” for the legislature to spend this much money without providing tax relief or school choice but also noted that the legislature has allocated spending toward programs that many Texans support, such as school security.