April 12, 2017
Editor-in-Chief, CRTX News
After 15 hours of debate, the Texas House of Representatives gave preliminary approval to the House version of the budget (C.S.S.B. 1). Unfortunately, the Texas Privacy Act (SB 6) and Rep. Valoree Swanson’s attempt to keep men out of women’s bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms was not added to the budget due to Speaker Straus ruling it out of order.
Two pro-life measures were added to the budget, a prohibition on funding abortions and groups that perform abortions, like Planned Parenthood. This effort was led by Representatives Matt Rinaldi, Matt Schaefer, and Drew Springer. The budget also including funding for Alternatives to Abortion plan which were led by Representatives Matt Krause, Mike Lang, Michael Schofield, and Matt Shaheen. Rep. Briscoe Cain successfully added an amendment to prevent tax dollars from being used for elective surgeries, including sex-change operations, for inmates in prison.
Unfortunately, other aspects of the budget are not so promising. The House’s $218 billion budget includes taking a quarter of the Rainy Day Fund or $2.5 billion for ongoing expenses. The few lawmakers who voted against the budget did so because of the extravagant spending.
Their concern was that the proposed House budget spends money from the Rainy Day Fund for typical budget expenses such as teachers’ healthcare, border security, and financial aid for students. These items should be funded from existing revenues. Conversely, the Texas Senate passed a budget 31-0 without tapping into the Rainy Day Fund. 16 lawmakers in the Texas House voted against the budget.
The budgets from the Senate and House now move to the conference committee. Senator Jane Nelson, Chairwoman Senate Finance Committee, opposes spending money from the Rainy Day Fund and is supported by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and many members of the Texas Senate. I am hopeful that during the Conference Committee she will protect the raiding of the Rainy Day Fund.
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