WEEK IN REVIEW
BUDGET DEAL REACHED
(AUSTIN) — Negotiators on the state budget reached an agreement Friday afternoon, sending a final proposal to each chamber for consideration. Funding for water and education ended up being the stickiest issues, with negotiators going back and forth before coming to a consensus. The agreement would take $2 billion out of the state's Rainy Day Fund and put it toward water infrastructure, and would increase education funding by $3.4 billion. Spending Rainy Day funds requires a two-thirds majority in both chambers, so it was crucial to craft an agreement that could get that level of support.
The road to this deal over the last week proved to be a bumpy one, with some House conservatives opposing using Rainy Day money at all, and House Democrats demanding more money for education spending, to make up for cuts in last session's budget. Because of the two-thirds threshold, budget writers had to come up with a plan that would bring in House Democrats, and the agreement passed from committee Friday seems to do just that. Each chamber could vote on whether or not to adopt the final budget as early as Monday. If both chambers approve, the budget would head to the Governor's desk for his signature.
Also Friday, the Senate celebrated the 50,000 consecutive vote by its second longest-serving member. Laredo Senator Judith Zaffirini has served in the Senate since 1987 and in all that time she's never missed a vote. According to San Antonio Senator Leticia Van de Putte, that's a national record. "In looking back at records," she said, "we found that this record is unique and unmatched." Zaffirini was presented with the gavel that was used during her record breaking vote.
A number of bills passed the Senate this week. One of these, HB 15, sponsored by Senator Jane Nelson of Flower Mound, seeks to improve infant mortality ranking hospitals by how strong their neonatal intensive care system is. Another, SB 1214, by New Braunfels Senator Donna Campbell would require a valid photo ID in order to obtain a marriage license.
Most of the action this week was in committee, where members worked to send as many bills as they could to the Senate floor. With only a little more than a week left in the 83rd Session, Senators are expecting long nights as they work to debate and pass the hundreds of bills passed out of Senate committees this week. Anything not addressed by Sunday, May 26th will die and lawmakers will have to wait until 2015 and the next legislative session to try and pass them into law.
The Senate will reconvene Monday, May 20 at 10 a.m.
|Sen. Kevin Eltife of Tyler drops the gavel on the bill on which Sen. Zaffirini cast her 50,000th consecutive vote. Zaffirini was later presented with the gavel as a momento for that milestone.||Sen. Judith Zaffirini was honored by her colleagues Friday on the occasion of her 50,000th consecutive vote. She was praised for her consistency, tenacity and skill as a legislator. Zaffirini is the second longest serving member of the Senate and has held her seat since 1987.|