State Budget

Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News.

Budget negotiators in the Legislature are at a standstill over the state’s budget for the next two years.  Today the Texas House could take up a couple of so-called “fiscal matters” bills that the Senate’s finance chairman says are key to balancing and passing a state budget without going into overtime, in other words,  a special legislative session this summer. 

Sketch courtesy of Pat Lopez.

Charged Fort Hood Shooter's Defense Meeting with Commander

Major Nidal Hasan's defense counsel is scheduled to meet with Fort Hood's commander today.  Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell will decide whether Hasan will be court martialed and whether he will face the death penalty. Hasan's lead attorney, John Galligan, told the Associated Press he'll urge Campbell not to seek the death penalty because those cases are more costly and time consuming. 

Texas Tribune

Nobody wanted to think about it in January. But as the middle of May approaches, with little more than two weeks left of the 82nd legislative session, a growing chorus of voices is asking: What happens if lawmakers can’t agree on school finance reform?

Photo by KUT News

Texas Budget Having Trouble in the Senate

Senate budget writer Steve Ogden (R-Bryan) hasn't been able to round up the votes he needs to get the Senate's version of the state budget to the floor for debate. Remember the Senate has what's called the two-thirds rule, which means each bill must get the support of two thirds of the chamber before lawmakers even get a chance to try to pass it.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The Texas Senate Finance Committee has approved a budget that spends down an additional $3 billion from the state's Rainy Day fund, according to our political reporting partner the Texas Tribune.  The 11-4 vote came faster than expected this morning, and it sets up a showdown between House and Senate lawmakers.

Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera, courtesy of the Texas Tribune.

Senate Committee to Take Up Budget

The Texas Senate Finance Committee will take up the state's budget and could vote on it today. The Senate's proposed cuts aren't as deep as those approved by the House.  KUT's political reporting partner, the Texas Tribune, reports Chair Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, wants to include a measure to use $3 billion from the state's Rainy Day Fund to balance the budget if additional revenue can't be found. Once the committee votes, the budget bill goes to the full senate.

Photo by KUT News

Texas House Approves Budget Bill

The House approved a budget of $164.5 billion last night for the next biennium with a 98-49 vote, largely along party lines. The budget is around $23 billion smaller than the state's current two-year budget. As expected, the House budget makes deep cuts to public education and health and human services spending.  The legislation now heads to the Senate where changes are expected.

Photo by Ryland Barton for KUT News

If you're watching the Texas House budget debate today - don't blink.  

While it took about 16 hours to get through the first three articles of the budget Friday, lawmakers are zooming through their debate on the remaining parts of the budget.  

Many amendments are simply being withdrawn - or moved to Article XI in the budget.  That's the place were projects without funding go to hang out just in case money can be found to fund them.  

Photo by KUT News

The Texas House has ended debate for the night on the state budget.  Lawmakers were able to get through the first 3 articles of the $164 billion bill - that includes general government (I), health and human services (II) and education (III).

Photo by KUT News

House Democrats aren't the only ones not happy about the spending cuts made in that chamber's version of the state budget.  ADAPT of Texas, a grassroots disability rights group, has a full protest on the 2nd floor landing right outside the House chamber.  Their chants have been heard over the last couple of hours anytime the debate in chambers hits a lull.  The ADAPT website lists several reasons for their opposition to the things the group says the bill does:

Photo courtesy the Texas Tribune for KUT News

Family planning was the target in in Article II of the budget. The Windham School District (an education system run in state prisons) appears to be the piggy bank for Article III. The first three amendments take about $1.1 million from Windham to pay for other educational programs. The fourth takes sweeps the entire Windham budget, $84 million, for other programs.

Photo by Ryland Barton for KUT News

The House is taking up the 371 pre-filed state budget amendments article by article.  There are 11 articles in the budget, although Article 11 is mostly a repository for projects that are not going to get funding. 

Photo by KUT News

The Texas House is off and running this morning on HB 1, the state budget bill. The $164 billion dollar budget is about $23 billion less than the budget passed in the 2009 legislative session. It also does not take into account population and enrollment growth in many state agencies and programs, like K-12 public education.

The Texas Tribune

The House Budget Bill is on its way to the full House for a vote.  

Image by KUT News.

Governor Rick Perry and House leadership have struck a deal that would use $3.2 billion from the so-called "Rainy Day Fund" to help close the budget shortfall for the current fiscal year.

In a joint statement by the governor, House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) and Comptroller Susan Combs, the remainder of the budget gap would be closed by $800 million in cuts and by using an additional $300 million that's come from increased state sales tax collections over the past few months.

Photo by KUT News

Round Rock ISD is looking to the public for some ideas on reducing its budget.

Photo by KUT News.

Texas Senate Releases Its Draft Budget Proposal

First the House, now the Senate has released its projected cuts. The Texas Senate released its first draft state budget proposal yesterday, following the House's first draft budget released last week.  It's $2.3 billion bigger than the House proposal at $158.7 billion. 

Photo by Erik Reyna for KUT News.

After today's eagerly awaited revenue estimate from the Texas Comptroller, it appears we are not much closer to knowing how deep and how wide the state's dreaded budget shortfall will be.

Listen to KUT's Ben Philpott talk about it with KUT freelancer Gretch Sanders.

Comptroller Susan Combs' revenue estimate, issued this morning, predicts the state will generate $72.2 billion to spend in the 2012-13 biennium, the two year time span for which legislators must draft a budget in the once-every-two-years session that begins tomorrow.

So that's how much money is coming in, but we won't know how big the budget gap is (and consequently, how severe cuts to government could be) until we receive a baseline budget from the Legislative Budget Board. No exact date has been set, but it is not expected for a couple weeks.

DeLay's Sentencing Hearing Starts Today

Former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay will be back in an Austin courtroom.  His sentencing hearing starts this morning.  DeLay was convicted in November on money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering charges.  Those charges were in connection to the 2002 Texas elections.  DeLay faces up to life in prison but his attorneys are asking for probation.

Texas Comptroller Announcing Revenue Estimate

Pages