After a month of negotiations, the elusive Conference Committee on Senate Bill 1, the state’s budget, has emerged from the secretive back room meetings, announcing the proposed final version of the state’s budget for the biennium. Unfortunately, the version proposed by the Conference Committee (called the “Conference Committee Report”) stripped the two critical Pro-Life provisions that were added by conservative members, rendering SB 1 an inexcusable missed opportunity for substantial Pro-Life victories.
The Conference Committee Report Issue Docket Decision documentoutlines how exactly the ten-member committee settled the differences between the Senate and House versions of the two-year state budget. Consisting of five members of the House and five members of the Senate, the Conference Committee removed the increased funding to the state’s Alternatives to Abortion (A2A) program and adopted a useless version of a Pro-Life rider intended to eliminate taxpayer funding that some abortion businesses currently receive in Texas. When the Texas House of Representatives debated the budget bill, conservative members, including those of the House Freedom Caucus, added amendments to increase funding for A2A and implement the appropriate, correctly written rider so that no miscellaneous or hidden funds would continue flowing to abortion providers or their affiliates.
The SB1 Conference Committee Report underfunds the Alternatives to Abortion program by $20 million.
Texas Right to Life worked with Representatives Mike Schofield, Matt Krause, and Matt Rinaldi to spearhead Pro-Life efforts on the budget. First, Representatives Schofield and Krause worked diligently to increase the funding of the Alternatives to Abortion program, a social services network of adoption agencies, maternity homes, and pregnancies centers, which has been underfunded.
After fighting anti-Life Democrats as well as subversive moderate Republicans in leadership, a $20 million increase was passed, totaling an appropriation of $38.3 million for the 2018-2019 biennium. This was a hard fought victory for these Pro-Life representatives, Texas Right to Life, and Texas citizens. However, the budget Conference Committee reversed this huge victory, cut the increase, and only maintained current funding level. This not only limits the growth of the program, but leaves pregnant women and their children unserved.
What’s worse is that the pet pork for Pro-Life Governor Abbott were substantially increased, while a successful program that he should protect was limited. Film, video, and music production subsidies, the controversial Texas Enterprise Fund, and other pork were bloated while this award-winning, fiscally responsible social services program for pregnant women was curtailed.
The current shortfall for the A2A funding will leave invoices unpaid plus a waiting list of qualified providers wishing to serve Texas women.
The SB1 Conference Committee Report adopts useless language that will leave funds flowing to the abortion industry.
Secondly, Representatives Matt Rinaldi, Matt Schaefer, and Drew Springer led the effort in the House to pass a much-needed budget-wide Pro-Life rider prohibiting abortion providers and their affiliates from receiving state funding. The state of Texas has been playing a protracted game of whack-a-mole with Planned Parenthood, only restricting eligibility requirements to specific programs so as to disqualify abortion providers and their affiliates. Last year, Texas Right to Life discovered Planned Parenthood siphoned more than $517,000 from the budget. In response, Texas Right to Life and legislators drafted language for a funding patch to bar abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood and their affiliates, from any state dollars. This funding patch was successfully added to SB 1 by the Texas House with a vote of 101-43. However, the Conference Committee rejected the strong funding patch language, instead adopting weak, meaningless language that does not cover the holes in the budget through which abortion affiliates receive state money.
The Conference Committee has not signed the report yet and can still correct their earlier decision to remove these two Pro-Life provisions. Pro-Life Texans must act now to restore the increased funding to the Alternatives to Abortion program as well as adopt the House’s stronger funding patch to block abortion providers and their affiliates from receiving taxpayer dollars.
Call Chairman Zerwas and Chairwoman Nelson today:
- Representative John Zerwas (R-Richmond): 512-463-0657
- Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound): 512-463-0112
Tell them to fix the Senate Bill 1 Conference Committee Report to:
- Fund the Alternatives to Abortion program at $38.3 million for the biennium;
- Adopt the House version of the Pro-Life rider on Page IX-34.