Budget debate in Texas House today and into the night

Posted in 83rd Legislature, Around The State, The Budget, The Lege at 10:23 am by wcnews

The Statesman has a short preview of the debate on the budget in the House, it’s likely to last until tomorrow.

The debate
— House members have filed 267 proposed amendments, ranging from banning funds for embryonic stem cell research to adding $4.7 million in spending to help volunteer fire departments.
— Members are not allowed to change the bottom line, so for every amount added, they must find a corresponding cut.
— 11 tea party freshmen have indicated they will seek to cut $215 million in what they see as wasteful spending and apply the money to the retired teacher health care fund.
— Some members expect debate on expanding Medicaid, an issue the House has not yet debated.
— Debate is expected to last well into Friday morning.

And this from the Texas Tribune.

So we wanted to give you a little cheat sheet of what to look for Thursday. And the best way to do that is to talk to a budget expert, like Kate Alexander from the Austin-American Statesman.

“We came into this session with $8.8 billion left over from the current budget that was able to close some of the holes and budget gimmicks that were used to balance the budget in 2011,” Alexander said. “And now we’re looking at some significant investments going forward in the next two-year budget to help restore some of the funding cuts that were made in 2011.”

She said having more money doesn’t necessarily mean a quiet budget debate. Although, so far this session, the mood on the House floor has not been as rancorous as it was last time.

In 2011, Republicans used several budget amendments to chip away at all state funding to Planned Parenthood. This time, a group of freshman Republicans wants to make policy statements with amendments that cut funds to programs they don’t believe the state should support.

“We’ve already seen a group of freshmen who have put forth a series of amendments to take away from programs all over the budget, and they want to direct that money into retiree health care for teachers,” Alexander said. “So that may be the beneficiary of that money, which totals about $215 million, but the real point is trying to take aim at policies that they don’t think the state should be spending money on.”

The Texas Legislative Study Group has an Overview of the budget as well as the 267 pre-filed amendments.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.