The Texas Legislative Guide was designed and developed by Becca Aaronson, Emily Albracht, Daniel Craigmile, Annie Daniel, Ben Hasson and Ryan Murphy for The Texas Tribune. The Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that promotes civic engagement and discourse on public policy, politics, government and other matters of statewide concern.
Despite thousands of other bills filed, House Bill 1 and Senate Bill 2 probably drew the most attention this session. Through the two budget bills, the House and Senate crafted competing visions for what state government should look like over the next two years.
After the House and Senate approved their respective plans, House Speaker Joe Straus and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick appointed members to a conference committee to work out the chambers' differences to get a single bill to Gov. Greg Abbott.
After the conference committee’s negotiations, Texas lawmakers in both chambers overwhelmingly approved a $209.4 billion two-year budget, a 3.6 percent increase over the current one. The budget leaves $6.4 billion unspent, including $2.9 billion under the state’s constitutional spending cap, according to the Legislative Budget Board. It includes property tax cuts favored by the Senate. It includes funding to keep the Texas Army National Guard on the border until the Department of Public Safety is considered fully staffed in the region, which the Senate had also sought.
The budget plan favored the House’s approach to shoring up the Employees Retirement System and boosting research funding for higher education institutions.
There was an extra $1.5 billion allotted to public education compared with the last budget — though Democrats said that figure should have been larger.
House Appropriations Chairman John Otto and Senate Finance Chairwoman Jane Nelson also worked to pass several smaller bills related to the budget this session. Most notably, lawmakers passed a supplemental budget bill, HB 2, to pay for unexpected costs and IOUs in the current budget.
Updated: May 31, 2015
- Agreeing on the budget
- Reforming contracting and procurement
- The fight over the spending cap
- Reducing property taxes
- Cutting margins taxes
- Budget fallout from school finance lawsuit
See all the topics we’re following.