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Border security, tax cuts highlight $210B state budget

🕐 2 min read

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – The first state budget under Republican Gov. Greg Abbott spends lavishly on border security, defunds one of Rick Perry’s signature initiatives and includes the biggest tax cuts in a decade.

The House and Senate are expected to give final approval next week to the roughly $210 billion spending bill. A new budget is the only thing the Legislature is constitutionally required to pass before adjourning June 1.

Here’s a look at some of the highlights:

BORDER SECURITY

Perry spent nearly $1 billion over the previous decade putting armored gun boats, spy planes and even the National Guard on the Texas-Mexico border. But it took Abbott only five months to write a check for nearly that amount: More than $800 million is set for border security, which was a dominant issue for Republican candidates in 2014.

PUBLIC EDUCATION

Texas classrooms are getting roughly an extra $1.5 billion – that works out to about an extra $100 per student after a relatively quiet session on school funding after the issue dominated the Legislature in 2011 and 2013.

But it could roar back to life soon enough. An ongoing lawsuit over how the state pays for education remains in the hands of the Texas Supreme Court, and a ruling later this year could force lawmakers back to Austin to design a new school-finance system.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD

Two years after passing some of the toughest abortion restrictions in the country, Republicans are now removing Planned Parenthood from a state program that provides cancer screenings for low-income women.

The decision severs funding for more than a dozen Planned Parenthood clinics that don’t provide abortions on-site. Planned Parenthood got about $1.2 million in taxpayer funds under the cancer screening program last year.

TAX CUTS

A $3.8 billion package of tax cuts for businesses and homeowners is less than what Abbott and other GOP lawmakers had bragged was possible this session. Homeowners would save roughly $120 a year on property taxes, though critics say those savings will be eaten up by rising appraisals.

ATTENDANTS FOR THE DISABLED

Disabled-rights activists blocked the doors to Abbott’s office this week in protest of wages for attendants who help the disabled with their day-to-day lives. Although Abbott, who has used a wheelchair since 1984 after an accident left him paralyzed from the waist down, encouraged advocates by calling for more funding, it fell short of the $10 hourly wage they sought.

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