Thursday, May 26, 2011

House and Senate Conferees Agree on Budget

The HB 1 Conference Committee just met and approved the budget for FY 2012/13. The Conference Committee Report will now go to the full House and Senate, where it will need to be approved by a majority vote in each body. This is anticipated to take place Saturday.

SB 1811 is the remaining must pass bill for the biennial budget. It is currently in conference between the House and Senate as they negotiate how to allocate the $4 billion in cuts to public education. The procedural deadline for the SB 1811 CCR to be filed is midnight Saturday. Practically, however, it also needs to occur tomorrow or it will be vulnerable to a filibuster in the Senate.

HB 1 and SB 1811 provide a balanced budget for the FY 2012/13 biennium. To eliminate the deficit in the current biennium ending August 31, HB 4 must still pass. HB 4 passed the Senate last night, and it now goes back to the House for concurrence or conference. HB 275 appropriating $3.2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund to pay the deficit for the current FY 2010/11 deficit has already passed both bodies and is headed to the Governor for signature.

Senator Ogden said that the Texas budget this session is the hardest matter he has ever worked on. However, he stated that if each of the above four bills passes and becomes law, Texas will have a balanced budget for the next two years and will have covered its current biennial deficit. And, most importantly to this observer in the Gallery, we will have avoided a Special Session!