The State Budget has been one of the more dramatic stories under the dome this session.
Sunday the House had its final chance to debate and discuss legislation with the deadline to adopt conference committee reports (the very last step in the process before the bill is sent to the Governor). This included all of the budget bills: HB 1025, the supplemental appropriations bill and SB 1, the actual budget.
Tempers flared during several moments of debate, including the adoption of SB 1, and HB 1025, (both had several points of order called on the respective bills). The House eventually approved HB 1025, the supplemental appropriations bill, which passed subject to Article 3 Section 49A in the Texas Constitution. This essentially means that it is subject to the spending limitations set by the comptroller.
The supplemental appropriations had some of the most interesting commentary on it. Democrats and Republicans found common ground in opposing this bill, but for completely different reasons. Republicans are against the bill because it uses money from the flushed-with-cash Rainy Day Fund (i.e. uses too much money) and a few Democrats were against it because it still does not adequately fund education, or Medicaid, or pre-k programs. All of these were drastically cut last session (i.e. uses too little money).
One point of contention was regarding how much money was being restored to public education. Although the House passed money for additional or supplemental appropriations in HB 1025 which takes money out of the Rainy Day Fund, there are still monies left in General Revenue, approximately $500 million. That's $500 million dollars left on the table that could go to public education or any number of the initiatives that fell by the wayside.
Still, many Democrats called for celebration back when a budget deal was negotiated, but other progressive groups disagree, noting that partially restoring drastic cuts is still not cause for celebration.
To quote the heckled tea-partier Representative David Simpson from the debate on the House Floor, “Although there are good things in this budget, this is not a good budget.”