How Does the State Budget Get Made?
The 2013 Texas Legislative session is just around the corner. And state lawmakers are already bickering over the state budget.
The Texas legislature only meets for 140 days every two years, so every budget passed has to last two years. The process for this session kicks off during the first week of January.
“The real beginning of the budget process, publicly, is the release of the revenue estimate,” says Kate Alexander, who covers the Legislature for the Austin American-Statesman. “And that will happen the day before the session.”
She says the revenue estimate lets lawmakers know how much money they have to spend. Next comes what’s called the “base budget”.
“That base budget will reflect what it costs to continue services as they are,” says Alexander.
After that, the committee work begins. Both the Senate Finance and House Appropriations Committees will create separate versions of the bill. They can be very different. Last session, the House proposed a budget about $12 billion less than the Senate’s. To bridge the gap, each chamber picks five lawmakers to form a conference committee, where the two bills will be combined into one final document. That budget heads back to the House and Senate for a final vote. Before heading to the Governor’s desk. But the process doesn’t end there.
“Then the governor can veto the whole thing,” says Alexander. “He can line item veto particular elements. So it’s certainly not a done deal until governor Perry puts his signature on it.”
That usually happens in May.