A panel of budget writers on Wednesday advanced the Texas Senate’s two-year, $248 billion spending plan that includes a boost for public schools and a cut to Medicaid, setting the stage for negotiations with the House.

Both chambers have agreed to pump an additional $9 billion in state revenue into the public education portion for the budget, but now lawmakers must reconcile their differences over how to spend the money.

“Members, this is a robust, financially responsible budget that meets the needs of our growing state,” said state Sen. Jane Nelson, a Flower Mound Republican who chairs the Senate Finance Committee. The budget passed unanimously out of the committee.

The Senate favors a $4 billion proposal for a $5,000 across-the-board pay raise for public school teachers and librarians and another $2.3 billion for school districts. The House, meanwhile, would provide $6.3 billion to school districts, which could make their own decisions about targeted pay raises or hiring additional staff.

The House and Senate have agreed to spend $2.7 billion on property tax “relief,” though the chambers have not decided on a mechanism for slowing the growth of bills paid by home and business owners.

Before the budget’s passage, the Finance Committee voted narrowly to keep a controversial provision targeting a proposed high-speed rail line between Houston and Dallas.

The spending plan also contains a provision directing the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to cut costs by $900 million.

Wednesday’s version of the Senate budget plan is $4.8 billion larger than the initial proposal unveiled by the chamber in January. It next heads to the full Senate for approval, where it is expected to pass easily.

“Texas Senate panel advances budget bill that mirrors House plan on education, property tax reform spending” was first published at https://www.texastribune.org/2019/04/03/texas-budget-senate-committee-2019/ by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.