Thursday, May 5, 2011

Texas senate follows GOP national trend, passes budget bill strictly along part lines

"I don't need no help, I can mess it up all by my lonesome."

From  the Texas Senate website
Here are some of the Texas senate's budge bill decimations highlights:

Education spending also sees a cut, but one that budget supporters said wouldn't decimate school districts. Work on this section of the budget was led by Plano Senator Florence Shapiro and her Subcommittee on Education Finance, which also developed a new school finance plan. The Senate budget anticipates passage of that plan in the form of SB 22 in order to balance. That bill would reduce target revenue, pegged at 2005-2006 levels, and move gradually to a formula funding system. Shapiro said that under the Senate budget, no district will see more than a 9 percent reduction in funding.

Probably the most contentious issue surrounding the budget revolves around methods of finance, specifically the use of the state's Economic Stabilization Fund, better known as the Rainy Day Fund. When it left committee, the budget included a contingency rider for using $3 billion of the $9 billion fund, but some lawmakers (GOP) wouldn't support the use of that money.

In order to secure the votes for passage, senator Steve Ogden (R-Bryan) amended the bill on the floor to remove that rider and replace it with one that would institute a $1.25 billion shift in health and human services in fiscal year 2013 and a 1.2 percent across-the-board cut to state agencies, excepting the Permanent School Fund and debt service.

This bill will now head to a conference committee, where five Senators and five members of the House will work out the differences between the two chambers' versions of the budget. That committee report will come back before the Senate for a vote before session ends on May 30.

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