DALLAS — Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a two-year, $172.3 billion state budget Friday, but lawmakers continue work on two bills to finance the spending plan.
“I am proud Texas will continue to live within its means while encouraging job creation and maintaining essential services,” said Perry, who is considering a run for the Republican nomination for president in 2012.
“There is still some work to be done by lawmakers, but I am confident the bills I have signed will strengthen our economic momentum moving forward,” Perry said at the signing ceremony.
Work continues this week on a financing bill that would have provided $3.5 billion of non-tax revenue through accelerated collections and the deferral of billions in state aid to local education into fiscal 2014. The measure failed to pass in the regular session.
The special session is set to end June 29.
A companion bill would amend the Texas educational funding formula to account for $4 billion less in state spending than required under the current method.
An amendment to the school measure would allow bonds issued by charter schools with a high credit rating to qualify for enhancement through the state’s Permanent School Fund.
The budget includes $257 million for two years of debt service on an additional $3.3 billion of Proposition 12 highway bonds.
The new debt, which would be issued by the Texas Transportation Commission, would exhaust the voter-approved capacity for the road debt program that’s supported by the general fund rather than the gasoline tax.
The budget signed by Perry underfunds the state Medicaid program for poor and uninsured Texans by almost $5 billion. The bill funds the state-federal program at $10.2 billion in fiscal 2012 and $6 billion in fiscal 2013.
Legislative leaders hope state revenues will perk up enough to cover the budget gap with a supplemental appropriation bill when lawmakers meet again for a regular session in January 2013.
State Comptroller Susan Combs last week certified that anticipated general fund revenues of $78 billion in fiscal 2012 and 2013 would be sufficient to finance the budget developed by the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Combs said legislative exemptions to the sales tax and others cost the state $32.2 billion a year.
The Legislature approved the use of $3.2 billion from the state rainy-day fund to help cover a revenue gap in what remains of fiscal 2011, but the House balked at Senate plans to use $4 billion from the emergency fund to keep school funding at mandated levels.
The current version of SB 2, the appropriations measure, was amended in the House to allow some use of the rainy-day fund to cover some of the cuts to public education.
Revenues above the $6.5 billion expected to be in the fund at the end of fiscal 2013 would go to local education, to a maximum of $2.2 billion, to account for enrollment growth.
SB 1 contains a measure levying state sales taxes on Internet retailers with operations in Texas. Perry vetoed a similar bill that passed during the regular session.