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May 23, 2003     (512) 463-0300

Budget Writers Receive Gift of $1.3 billion in Federal Assistance

Senator Teel Bivins, Senator Judith Zaffirini, Lt. Gov David Dewhurst
Senator Teel Bivins, Senator Judith Zaffirini, and Lt. Gov David Dewhurst announce Texas has been allotted $1.3 Billion in federal aid.

Austin - Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst today announced that the Conference Committee on the appropriations bill has received word that $1.3 billion in federal aid has been allotted to the State of Texas to assist in balancing the budget.

$570 million from the fiscal relief package is directed towards social services and Medicaid, which Dewhurst said could be used to cover the possibility of increased caseload growth over the next two years.

The rest of the money comes in the form of flexible grants, which can be used to provide essential government services or to cover state costs in complying with unfunded mandates.

The committee will be discussing how the additional funds can and will be used over the next two days.

Dewhurst said that the committee is close to finishing the budget, but there are still about 40 remaining issues. Negotiations are still ongoing on the two largest issues, education and health and human services.

A number of bills received approval from the Senate today.

Students and adults could be better educated about making sound financial decisions regarding credit card debt, students loans, small business ownership, debt management, and other relevant financial matters under Senate Bill (SB) 627. The bill by El Paso Senator Eliot Shapleigh would create a coordinated financial literacy education program focused on teaching adults and students to make informed monetary decisions.

University of Texas students would have to pay $2 more per semester in fees under House Bill (HB) 1537, sponsored by Austin Senator Gonzalo Barrientos. The increased fee would be used to construct statues of historical figures Barbara Jordan and Cesar Chavez and to establish scholarship funds in their names.

The amount of funds a judicial candidate is allowed to raise would be restricted under HB 2158. The bill, presented by Senate sponsor Royce West of Dallas, would consider primary and general elections a single election for the purpose of campaign contribution limits.

The Senate passed a proposed Constitutional amendment that would allow the voters to decide whether a person, being the only qualified candidate, should be allowed to assume an office without an election. House Joint Resolution (HJR) 62 was sponsored in the Senate by Flower Mound Senator Jane Nelson.

The Senate will reconvene Saturday, May 24, 2003, at 10:00 a.m.

Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's audio and video archive pages.

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