02.13.13

The supplementals are coming

Posted in 83rd Legislature, Around The State, The Budget, The Lege at 3:19 pm by wcnews

From Robert Garrett at Trailblazers blog, A quick primer on Texas House’s “supplemental bills”.

The Texas House’s chief budget writer has filed five bills that could constitute the “supplemental appropriations” package. Once upon a time, the supplemental was one bill that tweaked spending in the second fiscal year of the current two-year budget — in the same session in which lawmakers would write the next two-year budget.

In recent sessions, though, budget writers made things very hard to follow. Some supplemental bills spend money across all three fiscal years, while one passed in 2011 actually cut more spending than it added. You couldn’t just look at the supplemental bill to see how they closed out the cycle about to end.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Pitts, you might say, is keeping us on our toes.

This year, he has introduced a five-bill, supplemental package. It actually goes beyond mere spending, or appropriating of money: Some of the bills would undo accounting tricks and tax-collection speed ups that lawmakers approved last session. They did those things to avert making deeper spending cuts as they bridged a two-year, $27 billion budget shortfall.

Garret has more in the article on each specific bill. The first one to come up will be HB 10.

House Bill 10 plugs last session’s $4.5 billion hole in state funding of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

It also adds $630 million to the state’s main school-aid program, the Foundation School Program, for technical adjustments: Last session, lawmakers overestimated the value of a time-honored trick. They were going to let this August’s state payment to schools slip over into September — and thus into the next two year cycle. This year, though not in HB 10, they’re undoing it before it happens. But last time, they credited themselves $317 million more than they should. There’s also $313 million more in Robin Hood recapture money to parcel out this year. This is the bill needed so that hospitals, docs and nursing homes don’t stop being paid next month.

It’s due to hit the House floor next Thursday (with amendments due Monday at 5PM).

The Democrats would certainly like to keep the heat on the GOP over public education.

Despite unanimous passage in committee, Democrats have indicated they won’t let majority Republicans send the supplemental bill to Perry without a fight. The House Democratic Caucus has called for tacking on $5.4 billion in restored public education spending that was cut in the last session.

But the Speaker seems to be trying to stop that by limiting the kind of amendments that can be added.

(a) During second and third reading consideration of the bill, any amendment that adds or increases an item of appropriation in the bill is not in order unless the amendment contains an equal or greater reduction in one or more items of appropriation in the bill from the fund or funds against which the appropriation is to be certified.
(b) The provisions of this section do not apply to an amendment that makes an adjustment in an item of appropriations solely to correct a technical clerical error.

No matter, next Thursday will be the first serious floor debate of the 83rd session.

1 Comment »

  1. Supplement this! – Off the Kuff said,

    February 15, 2013 at 6:13 am

    [...] added to the total cost without any offsetting cut elsewhere. We’ll see what comes of this. EoW has [...]

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