Wednesday was the much-anticipated budget day in the Texas House of Representatives, meaning that 150 state representatives decided how your tax dollars would be spent for the next two years (or biennium in legislature speak) by considering and voting on the state’s budget bill. During budget day, Texas Right to Life works to protect all existing Pro-Life budget provisions, to add new Pro-Life provisions, to increase funding for the state’s Alternatives to Abortion program, and to defeat all anti-Life amendments.
In addition to building consensus on our Pro-Life priority bills that are totally separate from the budget (and about which we will update you soon), our legislative team has been working on all cylinders since last June to secure victories in the budget. Our Pro-Life amendments were researched, planned, and written before all the deadlines, and House members were excited to vote on the Pro-Life amendments.
The state’s program for Alternatives to Abortion was fully funded at $90 million for the biennium. This program serves women who are pregnant, think they are pregnant, and mothers of children up to 3 years old. In 2005, Texas became the 10th state to fund such a program, and the program has provided over 1 million social services to women and children.
We offer a special thanks to these elected officials for sponsoring amendments to increase funding to the Alternatives to Abortion program: Representative Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford), Representative Jared Patterson (R-Carrollton), Representative Matt Krause (R-Arlington), Representative Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth), and Representative Tom Oliverson, M.D., (R-Cypress). Ultimately, Representative Krause’s amendment was the only amendment needed, and his amendment included the increased funding.
The Krause Amendment passed by a vote of 83-64. Krause also capably thwarted a weakening amendment by Chris Turner (D-Dallas), chair of the Democrat Caucus. Turner’s amendment would have ruined the entire program, but the House defeated Turner’s amendment by a vote of 83-64. The budget bill passed after 12 hours of debate.
Shockingly, the Senate just released their version of the state’s budget, and they did not fully fund the Alternatives to Abortion program at the needed $90 million—a program that has been championed by Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Patrick. After the full Senate considers and passes their version of C.S.H.B.1, the budget bill will then go to conference committee, a committee comprised of both House and Senate members who will negotiate and reconcile the variances in the two versions. The final version of C.S.H.B.1 that emerges from conference committee must include the full $90 million for the Alternatives to Abortion program or the budget will be considered a missed opportunity to protect Life in this Regular Session of the 86th Texas Legislature.