Updated 03/20/2013 07:30 PM
Senate passes $195.5 billion budget bill
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In a 29-2 vote, the Senate’s version of the 2014-2015 budget was approved late Wednesday afternoon.
The Senate's chief budget writer, Republican Sen. Tommy Williams, told his colleagues that public schools would receive more money this biennium. Health care, including mental health services, also stands to receive a bump in the budget.
Under SB1, state employees will get a raise and higher education took a top priority.
"In this budget there is over $1 billion of total aid to college students who are attending our universities here in Texas," Williams said. "We can be proud of what is included in this budget.”
But Williams took a jab at what he thinks may happen if Medicaid is expanded under the Affordable Care Act.
"Medicaid is growing at least twice the rate as the rest of the budget and it's literally crowding out public education and every other part of the budget,” Williams said. “I'm deeply concerned about what this means for the future of our state."
But for Democratic Senator Wendy Davis, the budget spelled bad news for education. She hoped the $5.4 billion in cuts from the last session would have been fully restored, so she voted no.
"This budget fails Texas children because it does not address the state's constitutional obligation to adequately fund public education," she said.
Davis, along with other colleagues, questions why lawmakers are talking about tapping the state's savings account for water and transportation needs, but not education.
Williams emphasized this bill is a work in progress.
The House Budget Committee is scheduled to vote on its version of a budget bill on Thursday. It would then head to the floor for a full vote.
After that, it’s up to several members to hammer out the differences before a final budget is approved at the end of the session.