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Posts under ‘Budget ballyhoo’

Budget passes

The Legislature’s one mandated duty has been completed. Both chambers of the Texas Legislature voted Saturday evening to approve a $217 billion, two-year budget that would boost funding for the state’s beleaguered child welfare agency, increase the number of state troopers on the Texas-Mexico border and avoid serious reforms to the state’s much-criticized school finance […]

Budget deal reached

The one bill that must get passed is on its way. After months of private squabbling and public threats of a legislative overtime session, the Texas House and Senate finally compromised to unveil a joint budget late Saturday. Lawmakers, scrounging for cash in a tight-fisted legislative session, agreed to dip into the state’s savings account […]

House approves bill to kill margins tax

Dumb. The Texas House on Thursday approved a proposal that would phase out an unpopular business tax that provides funding for public schools. The proposal by state Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, would not reduce the state’s franchise tax during the current penny-pinching legislative session, but it would do so in future years. Under Bonnen’s bill, […]

One more thing about vouchers

I’m going to enjoy this just a little bit more. The Texas House of Representatives all but killed Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s prized school choice bill Thursday, dealing the powerful Republican a major loss as he struggles to push his agenda through this year’s legislative session. House members considering the state’s budget plan for the […]

House passes its budget

Mostly shenanigan-free, with a nice little side order of shade for a few people who deserve it. After 15 and a half hours of debate on hundreds of amendments to the Texas House budget, lawmakers in the lower chamber passed the two-year, $218 billion document, with 131 votes in favor and 16 votes against. The […]

Senate passes its budget

It’s the one bill that has to pass. The Texas Senate unanimously approved a two-year budget on Tuesday that would shift nearly $2 billion in public education costs from the state to local taxpayers. The Senate’s $218 billion document now goes to budget writers in the House for debate. “This is a lean budget, but […]

Who loves budget gimmicks?

The Senate Budget Committee, that’s who. Texas Senate budget writers on Wednesday unanimously approved their two-year budget, which avoided some steep cuts by using an accounting trick to free up $2.5 billion state dollars that were originally slated to go to the state highway fund. By delaying a diversion of sales tax money from August […]

House considers a bigger ask from the Rainy Day Fund

Needs must, as they say. The proposal from state Rep. John Zerwas, a Richmond Republican and the House’s chief budget writer, would withdraw about $2.4 billion from the Rainy Day Fund as part of a supplemental budget to pay bills coming due for programs like Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program for the poor and disabled, […]

Bill to restore some budget flexibility filed

Call it the Law of Unintended Consequences Act of 2017. The Texas House’s chief budget writer filed legislation Friday that would allow lawmakers to claw back billions of dollars that voters approved for state highways, freeing them up for other budget needs. Texans overwhelmingly voted in 2015 to boost funding for the state’s public roadways […]

House releases school finance fix bill

A step in the right direction. The top public education policymaker in the Texas House unveiled a $1.6 billion plan on Monday that he described as a first step to overhauling the state’s beleaguered school funding system. At a Capitol press conference, state Rep. Dan Huberty said House Bill 21 would boost per-student funding for […]

Zerwas proposes using Rainy Day Fund

We’ll see if this goes anywhere. The chief budget writer in the Texas House on Friday proposed using $1.4 billion from the state’s savings account to pay bills coming due for a wide array of the state’s health and human services programs. The proposal from state Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, would continue pay raises for […]

How the Legislature is raising your property taxes

RG Ratcliffe explains it all to you: Just how much money does the increased appraisal on property in your school district and elsewhere save the state budget writers? The projection is $1.5 billion for the next two-year budget. And where does this money go? In its initial budget, the Senate plans to use the savings on other state expenditures. […]

Turns out a little budget flexibility is a good thing

Some lessons have to be learned the hard way. More than a year after Texas voters approved routing billions in state sales taxes to roads and bridges, some lawmakers are questioning whether the first payment of $5 billion should move forward as planned. Texans voted in 2015 to boost funding for state’s public roadways and […]

Senate to begin studying school finance changes

We’ll see what this looks like. Leaders in the Texas Senate are vowing to find ways to overhaul the state’s school finance system, saying a recent Texas Supreme Court decision granted them a prime opportunity to shake up the heavily criticized status quo. On Monday, they announced the creation of a Senate budget working group […]

Where we begin with school finance

A nice overview from the Trib on school finance, where the problems are many and the budget situation is non-optimal. The current system is held together by a number of short-term fixes that have not been updated or reformed in decades. The Texas Supreme Court upheld the funding system as constitutional in May, and at […]

Here’s your 2018-19 revenue estimate

It’s pretty mediocre. Facing sluggish economic forecasts amid low oil prices along with billions in tax revenue already dedicated to the state highway fund, Comptroller Glenn Hegarannounced Monday that lawmakers will have $104.87 billion in state funds at their disposal in crafting the next two-year budget, a 2.7 percent decrease from his estimate ahead of […]

We’re still lousy at funding schools

In case you were wondering. Texas still ranks in the bottom third of states in spending per pupil in the U.S., with essentially no change in either amount or standing, a new study shows. The finding doesn’t help, and could undercut, the state’s position in a long-running school finance case. Figures compiled by the National […]

The state is starting to feel the squeeze

Things are tough all over. The state is facing big problems affecting vulnerable populations that will take significant money to fix at the same time that a slump in the energy industry is chipping into its revenues, House Speaker Joe Straus warned Tuesday. “Writing a balanced and disciplined budget that appropriately funds our top priorities […]

Lawsuits and low oil prices

Both are threatening the next Texas budget. Last week, lawyers for the state of Texas got the latest in a string of bad legal news. A lawsuit challenging the state’s foster care system as inhumane appeared to gain steam when an appeals court rejected the state’s request to stop the appointment of two “special masters” […]

We’re not so good at school funding

I know, I’m as shocked as you are. Texas earned the worst marks in the country for its funding of public education, according to a research report released Wednesday. Researchers with Rutgers Graduate School of Education and the New Jersey-based Education Law Center called out the Lone Star State for ranking poorly on all of […]

Supreme Court to decide just how stupid our tax system is

Oh, goody. The Texas Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear arguments in a case that could deliver a multi-billion windfall to struggling oil and gas producers by taking a major bite out of state tax revenue. The issue before the justices may sound arcane: Are metal pipes, tubing and other equipment used in oil and […]

AG’s office upholds Abbott’s line item vetos

Of course it does. Gov. Greg Abbott was well within his powers when he vetoed more than $200 million in funds approved by the Texas Legislature this year, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office wrote in an opinion issued Monday. […] The nonbinding opinion, written by First Assistant Attorney General Chip Roy, has the potential […]

We have a messed up tax system in this state

The latest exhibit: The volatile oil and gas industry already has prompted Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar to reduce his state revenue estimate, but that may not be the last of the bad budget news. A court decision potentially could cost Texas around $1.1 billion a year in franchise tax revenue, plus require four years’ worth […]

The economy takes its toll on state revenue

Nothin’ but good times ahead, though, right? Transportation funding could take a hit under new revenue projections by State Comptroller Glenn Hegar, who on Tuesday lowered his forecast of state tax collections by $4.6 billion in the face of a volatile oil and gas industry. Hegar’s new forecast still leaves more than enough money to […]

Hegar punts LBB veto issue to Paxton

Duck! Describing the debate as one that “goes to the heart of separation of powers within Texas government,” Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced Wednesday that he will not authorize more than $200 million in funds approved by the Texas Legislature but vetoed by Gov. Greg Abbott as the comptroller waits for the attorney general to settle […]

Still reviewing the video on the line item vetoes

Any day now. With varying degrees of concern, a smattering of government offices and higher education institutions around the state are waiting to learn the fate of more than $200 million in funds that the governor might — or might not — have excised from the state budget. The Legislative Budget Board is challenging several […]

Vetoes: You’re doing it wrong

Oops. Some of Gov. Greg Abbott’s line-item vetoes in the state budget might be invalid, the state’s Legislative Budget Board said in a 14-page letter sent Tuesday to Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar. The director of the LBB said the governor’s veto proclamation, listing line items he chose to excise from the new budget, doesn’t have […]

Tighter spending cap defeated

I consider this to be a victory. The state’s constitutional spending cap will remain untouched this session, and House and Senate leaders are blaming each other for the lack of action on the arcane but politically important measure. Senate Republicans had sought to tighten the rules that guide how much future state budgets can grow, […]

Budget deal

What Christopher Hooks says. Texans, you can put down your pitchforks and douse your torches: The edibles you’ve squirreled away in your emergency bunkers can be safely consumed. Life can begin anew. The tax cut war between House and Senate has been resolved, which means that barring a catastrophic screw-up—say, Comptroller Glenn Hegar realizing he […]

Bullet train budget rider battle continues

The budget rider to derail the high speed train is still under contention as the conference committee completes its work. Tucked in Page 682 of the budget passed by the Senate in April is Rider 48, a provision that would bar the Texas Department of Transportation from spending any state funds toward “subsidizing or assisting […]

One more shot at killing the high speed rail line

Never forget that the tricksiest maneuvers in the legislative handbook come in the budget. Texas’ prospects of having the first high-speed train line in the nation hinge on two sentences in a proposed state budget that lawmakers in the House and Senate must hash out before the end of the month. The Senate’s budget would […]

House passes sales tax cut

Over to you, Danno. The Texas House tentatively approved a $4.9 billion tax relief plan Tuesday that includes a cut to the state’s sales tax, marking a clear line in the sand against the Senate, which favors property tax cuts. The House voted 141-0 for House Bill 31 by Ways and Means Chairman Dennis Bonnen, […]

Budget passes House as most amendments get pulled

It was a long day in the House on Tuesday and Wednesday but not a terribly bloody one as many of the budget amendments and riders that had been queued up got withdrawn. A brief recap of the action: Border “security”: House Democrats tried — and mostly failed — to divert funds allotted for border […]

Let the budgetary games begin

The House takes up the budget today, with over 300 amendments and riders queued up for votes. A couple of things to watch for as the debate goes on: Killing vouchers. Lawmakers in the Texas House will have a chance to draw a line in the sand over private school vouchers during the upcoming battle […]