Statement on Senate Budget Bill

For Immediate Release
CONTACT:  Peter Clark, 512-417-9262

AUSTIN - Today the Texas Senate Finance Committee passed its budget proposal for the 2018-2019 biennium on a 15-0 vote. Following the vote, Stephanie Rubin, CEO of Texans Care for Children, released the following statement:

"We appreciate the hard work that Senators have put into writing this budget. We know the job was particularly difficult this year because past Legislatures reduced available revenue by cutting business taxes and creating an automatic funding carve out for highways.

"We're glad to see the Senate make a significant investment in improving foster care reimbursement rates and stabilizing the workforce at CPS. These investments will go a long way towards keeping kids safe and ensuring more kids can succeed if they enter foster care.

"We're also pleased to see other improvements over the Senate's original budget proposal, including removal of the 1.5 percent across-the-board cut and some progress towards fully funding Medicaid client services. 

"However, we have a number of concerns about the Senate's current budget proposal. 

"For example, the bill provides only $65 million for improving pre-k quality, falling far short of the $236 million needed over the two-year budget to maintain the $118 million in annual funding provided to pre-k students for the current school year. The bill also provides that funding through a “pre-k public-private partnership” with few details. No funding is provided for the recently established pre-k grant program that triggers high-quality standards, such as requirements for teacher training and parent engagement.

"The bill also fails to fully fund Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) for children under age three with autism, speech delays, Down syndrome, and other disabilities and developmental delays. HHSC requested an additional $19 million to take a step closer to covering the number of children expected in the program, but that request has not been included in the Senate budget.

"It's also important to note that so far the Senate has not attempted to reverse the Medicaid reimbursement rate cuts to therapies for children with disabilities.

"We encourage the Senate to fully fund pre-k, therapies for kids with disabilities, and other critical investments in Texas kids. By using a portion of the Rainy Day Fund for its intended purpose, the Senate could fully fund these and other priorities.

"As Senators continue working on this budget, we urge them to ensure it reflects Texans' values and invests in children."