This is very easy to understand.
Signaling austerity despite improving state revenues and a push by some to undo cuts to key programs, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and leading GOP senators said they plan to write a budget for the next two years that is smaller than allowed under a spending cap adopted Thursday.
The announcement was met with caution from House GOP leaders, who said the budget-writing process has yet to take its course.
Some Democrats, meanwhile, voiced concern that even the adopted cap could constrain efforts to restore money to programs such as public education even as Texas faces a school funding lawsuit.
Under the Texas Constitution, state leaders are required to limit certain state spending to economic growth; the cap applies to state tax revenues that are not constitutionally dedicated to other purposes, about $70.4 billion of the state’s current two-year budget of $173.5 billion.
The 10.7 percent cap adopted by the Legislative Budget Board is based on personal income, which would allow $7.5 billion in spending above the current budget. The existing budget is $14 billion less than the previous two-year state budget due to a revenue shortfall.
Dewhurst and the GOP senators’ position raised eyebrows among leading House members who serve on the budget board.
“We’ve written very conservative budgets, and we’ll continue to do that, but right now, we don’t know what we’ll have to pay for and how much revenue we’ll be getting from the comptroller,” said House Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie.
House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, said his chamber will follow its usual budget process, noting dozens of incoming members have not yet had a chance to weigh in.
Pretty much everything David Dewhurst will do in the coming months has to do with the fact that he has at least three potential primary opponents, and he will not be outflanked on the right again as he was with Ted Cruz this year. He’ll do the full Mitt Romney on any inconveniently moderate or sane thing he ever did or believed before, and hope it’s enough to hold back the pitchfork mob. Doesn’t matter if it makes sense, it just has to make the robber barons at TPPF twirl their mustaches with glee. This may or may not be enough to stave off a second humiliating defeat at the polls, but it’s his only chance.