Lt. Governor Dewhurst Appoints Senator Zaffirini to Appropriations Conference Committee
Austin, TX -- Lt. Governor David Dewhurst today (Wednesday) named Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, to the appropriations conference committee that will write the final draft of the $153 billion state budget. The committee comprises five senators and five representatives who will reconcile the Senate and House versions of the appropriations bill.
This is Senator Zaffirini's seventh appointment to the appropriations conference committee. She is serving her third consecutive term as vice chair of the Senate Finance Committee, on which she has served since 1991.
"I truly am grateful that Lt. Governor Dewhurst again appointed me to the appropriations conference committee, and I am committed to working closely with him and my fellow conferees to produce a comprehensive and cooperative budget that prioritizes families," Senator Zaffirini said. "My priorities include providing funding for the maximum reduction of community-based and home services waiting lists, which includes more than 90,000 Texans; providing essential funding for early education and higher education excellence; and funding for important programs and projects statewide and in Senate District 21."
During conference negotiations Senator Zaffirini will work to increase the Senate's $107.1 million to reduce community-based, home services and care waiting lists and to fund the $75 million in the Article XI "wish list." Senator Zaffirini also will seek $150 million in new grants for the Instructional Facility Allotment (IFA) that helps poor school districts with facility construction.
Included in the Senate's version of the budget are funding increases for both the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio (UTHSCSA) and Texas A&M International University in Laredo. Among Senator Zaffirini's priorities are increased funding for early childhood education, the Texas Early Education Model (TEEM) and advanced research programs within the Higher Education Coordinating Board.
The committee substitute for House Bill 1 by Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, and Senator Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, reflects more than a six percent increase over the 2005 budget. The Senate version spends approximately $2.1 billion more than its House counterpart.
Senate Finance Committee members named by Lt. Governor Dewhurst to the appropriations conference committee are Senators Ogden, chair; Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock; John Whitmire, D-Houston; Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands; and Zaffirini. House Appropriations Committee members named by Speaker Tom Craddick are Representatives Chisum, chair; Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City; Dan Gattis, R-Georgetown; Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham; and Sylvester Turner, D-Houston. Conferees will develop a final proposal that will be voted on in both chambers before the session ends on May 28.