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Posts Tagged ‘Jim Pitts’

Senate passes non-abortion bills, committee passes HB2

The decks are cleared on the Senate side for the main event. In a speedy Thursday morning meeting with little debate, the upper chamber passed Senate Bill 2 with a 30-1 vote, allowing Texas judges and juries to sentence 17-year-olds convicted of capital murderers to life in prison with parole after 40 years. It also […]

Elsewhere in the House

No action on transportation yet. House budget writers on Tuesday ended a hearing on transportation funding with no clear decision about how to raise money for Texas roads. The House Appropriations Committee is considering several proposals to see which has the most support, even if that means trying to pass a combination of bills in […]

Public Integrity Unit employees get layoff notices

What is to come if nothing changes. Travis County commissioners are still holding out hope the state will fund the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit, but took an early step to let employees know their jobs are on the line. Voting unanimously Tuesday, commissioners are giving layoff notices to more than 30 employees whose jobs […]

No override of Public Integrity Unit funding veto

Alas. A legislative move to restore state funding for the ethics-enforcing Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County district attorney’s office died Friday afternoon. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, said no vote is expected on House Concurrent Resolution 6 — the attempt by state Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, to override Gov. Rick Perry’s […]

Even Rick Perry thinks the slash and burn crowd is nuts

Insert pithy quote about reaping and sowing here. Gov. Rick Perry shot back Monday at conservative critics who say the state budget is growing too fast, offering the clearest signal yet that he plans to sign the two-year, $197 billion appropriations bill into law. The governor noted that he is still analyzing the legislation and […]

Who will be on the Ten Best and Ten Worst lists?

The Trib starts the speculation. Texas Monthly‘s list of the best and worst legislators of the 83rd session doesn’t come out until June 12, but why should Paul Burka and his colleagues have all the fun? Use this interactive to select your own personal best and worst list. Click or drag to put up to […]

We appear to have a budget

Took them long enough. After days of jockeying and one-upsmanship, the Texas House and Senate each approved measures Wednesday evening critical to passing their next two-year budget. “The results of these two bills together is a good conservative budget, and it’s something we can all be proud of,” said Senate Finance Chairman Tommy Williams, R-The […]

Someone attempted to do something about MBIA and the Sports Authority

And others expressed their disapproval about it. What the “it” is, and who it was that was trying to do “it” remain unclear. A surprise legislative maneuver has local government lobbyists scrambling to defend the agency that pays the debt on Houston’s sports stadiums against an alleged takeover attempt by the company that insures its […]

Budget deal reached

And the crowd goes wild. Top House and Senate negotiators agreed to a two-year budget for the state of Texas Friday that restores about $4 billion of $5.4 billion in cuts to public education made in 2011. It also creates a path for lawmakers to put $2 billion toward water infrastructure projects. The five House […]

Maybe I buried Medicaid expansion too soon

I still think it’s dead, but I could be wrong about that. The fate of Medicaid reform in Texas could rest solely on an up-or-down vote on the 2014-15 budget. State Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton, a member of the conference committee that is hashing out the differences between the House and Senate budget plans, said […]

Water, water, not so fast

So much for that. A major bill on the top of Gov. Rick Perry’s priority list that would authorize spending billions of dollars on state water projects faltered in the Texas House on Monday night after a contentious debate over where to pull the money from. “My understanding is it’s doorknob dead,” the bill’s sponsor, […]

Weekend legislative threefer

That sound you heard on Friday was Rick Perry stamping his feet if he doesn’t get his way. Gov. Rick Perry is warning state legislators that it could be a long, hot summer in Austin if they don’t pass his top priorities: funding water and transportation projects and cutting business taxes. With a month left […]

Senate to consider expanded gambling

I didn’t really take it seriously when I heard that Sen. John Carona had filed his own gambling expansion legislation, but it seems it’s got some traction. A proposal from Dallas Republican Sen. John Carona would establish a commission that licenses 21 casinos throughout the state, including three mega-resorts in Bexar, Dallas and Tarrant counties […]

House debates its budget

As you know, yesterday was Budgetpalooza in the House. The House budget puts more money into public education and less into health and human services than a Senate proposal that passed the upper chamber last month. “No one is or will be entirely happy with this bill, but there is something for everyone this year,” […]

More details on the House budget

Consider this to be written in pencil, because it’s going to change. More than $1.6 billion and disagreements on how much Texas should spend on public education and Medicaid separate the budgets proposed by the House and Senate. The Senate budget proposal, passed 29-2 by the upper chamber last week, spends $195.5 billion, a 2.9 […]

House Appropriations releases its budget outline

Better news for schools in this version. The House Appropriations Committee voted unanimously Thursday to boost funding for public schools by $2.5 billion in the next two-year budget period. Schools would get an additional $500 million in the current fiscal year, which ends Aug. 31, under a second proposal by Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts that […]

We have a budget

It is what it is. The 15 members of the Senate Finance Committee unanimously voted on Wednesday for a $195.5 billion two-year budget that undoes some of the cuts from the 2011 legislative session. The budget, which now heads to the full Senate, is 2.9 percent higher than the estimated size of the current two-year […]

Straus wants someone to do something on Medicaid

Don’t we all, Joe. Don’t we all. Seeking to light a fire under fellow Republicans to provide health care to more uninsured Texans, House Speaker Joe Straus said Wednesday that it is time to “get our heads out of the sand” and find an alternative to Medicaid expansion that would bring billions of federal dollars […]

Supplement this!

Time for the Lege to pay a few past-due bills from 2011. That’s where a supplemental budget comes in. It is literally a second budget added to the original one lawmakers approved in 2011. It’s not an unusual course for lawmakers to take to address lingering IOUs, but this year’s efforts are becoming more complicated […]

School finance system ruled unconstitutional

Surely no one is surprised by this. The system Texas uses to fund public schools violates the state’s constitution by not providing enough money and failing to distribute the money in a fair way, a judge ruled Monday in a landmark decision that could force the Legislature to overhaul the way it pays for education. […]

One place where a little austerity would do some good

Rick Perry’s slush funds get no love in the opening budgets. The House and Senate’s initial two-year budgets would force Perry’s deal-closing Texas Enterprise Fund to exhaust its last $7 million and throttle back on state film incentives and subsidies for major sporting events. The Emerging Technology Fund, which subsidizes high-tech commercial ventures, would face […]

Meet the new budget

Same as the old budget. Republican leaders in both chambers of the Legislature on Monday offered spare first drafts of the state’s next two-year budget that continue $5.4 billion in cuts to public education made last session and freeze funding for an embattled state agency set up to find a cure for cancer. Upending recent […]

So how’s public education doing under the Republicans?

Well, for starters, there’s larger class sizes. Northside’s predicament mirrors that of several other local districts with expanding enrollments. It’s part of the argument hundreds of Texas districts are making in an ongoing school finance lawsuit against the state, blaming lawmakers for a funding scheme that doesn’t keep up with growth. Administrators say larger classes […]

It’s all about 2014

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 […]

No, there won’t be a special session to help the public schools

Someone managed to catch Rick Perry during the few minutes he was in the office this week to ask about about having a special session to appropriate some of the extra Rainy Day funds to mitigate the cuts to public education. His answer was exactly what you’d expect. Perry said Tuesday that Texas is spending […]

The strip club tax is on the table

Among the things that conference committee members will be discussing as they try to finalize the budget is a reworking of the strip club tax that was first passed in 2007. This session, while awaiting a ruling on the case from the Texas Supreme Court, lawmakers attempted a preemptive strike. Fearing, as lower courts have […]

House Appropriations follows Senate, passes SB1

The grim march of the inevitable takes another step. The House Appropriations Committee voted along party lines on Saturday to recommend a controversial plan to reduce public education spending by at least $4 billion, cuts which hundreds of Texans later protested during a Capitol rally. The full House will take up the school funding bill […]

Vote on school finance today

On Friday night, the Lege finally reached an agreement on school finance, which is to say on how to distribute the $4 billion in cuts to public education to the school districts. Today the Lege gets to vote on that deal. House leaders wanted a two-year plan cutting school funding across the board by about […]

Budget passes

It’s official. The Texas House and Senate passed a state budget Saturday that cuts billions from public schools, state universities and health care for the elderly. The $172 billion legislation now goes to Gov. Rick Perry for his signature. Facing a massive revenue shortfall, lawmakers crafted the budget by making cuts and using deferrals rather […]

We have a budget

Such as it is. Budget negotiators met briefly this morning and voted 9-1 to adopt a conference committee report that cuts the state budget over the next biennium by $15 billion, or 8 percent. The total amount of funding from taxpayers, known as general funds, is $80.4 billion. The total expenditures for all funds, including […]

Budget deal reached

One less reason for a special session. Assuming nothing else goes wrong, and Rick Perry doesn’t veto it out of whatever sense of grandeur and vanity drives him. House Speaker Joe Straus indicated legislative negotiators have reached an agreement on the state budget, and the House soon today will consider the much-delayed revenue-generating bill crucial […]

House punts on budget bills till tomorrow

After getting off to a slow start, budget negotiators realized they were going nowhere fast and put a merciful end to things for the day. The House has punted to Thursday any floor consideration of the “non-tax revenue” bill and related bills needed to close out a deal on the two-year state budget. Rep. Jim […]

Senate passes supplemental appropriation with extra rainy day funds

I guess I hadn’t realized that the Senate hadn’t gotten around to passing a bill to close the deficit from the last biennium, since the House had done that a long time ago amid a huge debate about using Rainy Day Funds, but it’s just now that they passed the House’s bill, with a little […]

Nothing is dead, and nothing is certain

The deadline for passing House bills on second reading was midnight Friday last week, which means that tons of bills are technically dead, as they can no longer be brought to the House floor for a vote. However, bills can still be attached to other bills that are eligible for consideration as amendments, so nothing […]