House and Senate Budgets, Senate Supplemental Appropriations Bills Introduced

Posted on 1/17/2019

The base House and Senate budgets, which were released yesterday, maintain the 9.5% state contribution rate to the ERS Retirement Trust, as well as the additional contribution by general state agencies approved last session. This brings the total state contribution to 10%, the maximum allowable rate under Art. 16, §67, Texas Constitution. With respect the unfunded liability in the trust, the Senate supplemental appropriations bill (SB 500 by Sen. Jane Nelson) proposes to appropriate $300 million from the Economic Stabilization Fund to ERS to further reduce the unfunded amount. 

The House and Senate bills likewise maintains health benefit contribution rates for state employees at their current levels and aims to pay premium increases out of cost savings ERS has achieved in health plan contracts. The bill also provides for an increase of $4 million in funding for health benefit contributions for local community supervision and correction department employees, retirees, and dependents who also participate in the state's Group Benefits Program.

The two bills differ somewhat in the levels of FTEs for which funding is provided. The House version funds 214,038 and 214,427 FTE positions in 2020 and 2021 respectively. The 2021 level represents a decrease of 2,244 positions from FY 2019 budgeted levels, which the LBB states is related to aligning FTE position caps with funding levels and 2018 actual position levels. The Senate version reflects lower levels, funding 212,619 and 212,764 FTE positions in the two years of the biennium. The 2021 level represents a decrease from 2019 budgeted levels of 3,925. The same rationale for this decrease (aligning position caps with actual position levels) is given for the decrease.