From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
January 4, 2001
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

Senator Ellis Selected Chair of Senate Finance Committee
Selection caps history-making year for Senator Ellis, Texas

Austin -- State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) was appointed Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee by acting Lieutenant Governor Bill Ratliff. The Finance Committee is the most powerful committee of the Senate and is responsible for crafting the Texas state budget.

"I am deeply honored to be selected as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee," said Senator Ellis. "The Senate Finance Committee is responsible for crafting a budget which puts into action our priorities and principles. But deep down, the budget is really about improving the day-to-day lives of Texas families."

The Chair of the Senate Finance Committee is considered to be one of the most influential posts in Texas government. As chair, Senator Ellis is charged with directing state spending on education, health care, highways, public safety and more. He will be responsible for setting priorities on Texas' almost-$100 billion budget.

"I am honored by the confidence Lieutenant Governor Ratliff has placed in me. Texas faces many challenges in the 21st Century and I look forward to working with Lieutenant Governor Ratliff, House Appropriations Chairman Rob Junell and my colleagues in the Senate to strengthen Texas' foundation for the future."

The Finance Committee Chairmanship is the latest in a string of successes for Senator Ellis. As President Pro Tempore of the Texas Senate, Senator Ellis accomplished another first for African Americans the previous week. Ellis presided over the special meeting of the Texas Senate to elect a new Acting Lieutenant Governor and President of the Senate.

The historic session was required to fill the vacancy that occurred after President-elect George W. Bush resigned as Governor and Lieutenant Governor Rick Perry was sworn in as the 47th Governor of Texas. A provision of the Texas Constitution requires the President Pro Tempore of the Texas Senate to convene a meeting within 30 days to elect a new Acting Lieutenant Governor.

With Perry's swearing-in as Governor, Ellis became Acting Lieutenant Governor and President of the Senate during the interim period following Perry's resignation and the selection of Senator Ratliff to serve as Acting Lieutenant Governor and President of the Senate. This made Ellis the highest-ranking African American in Texas history.

In addition, as President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Ellis has served as Acting Governor for 50 days during his tenure. This is more than any previous President Pro Tempore in history. The President Pro Tempore of the Senate serves as Acting Governor when the Governor and Lieutenant Governor are out of the state.

"Serving during this historic period has indeed been an honor," said Senator Ellis. "It has afforded me the opportunity to work side by side with state leaders and leaders in our community to make Texas a better place for our families. Now we have the responsibility to continue to make the right choices that will benefit all Texans for years to come."

Profile of Senator Rodney Ellis