Ever since January, when the comptroller’s biennial revenue estimate showed that the Lege would have much more money to work with this session than the last one, it seemed clear that any budget squabbles in 2013 would be a pale imitation of the battles Texans saw in 2011. That is, in fact, what has happened: on Wednesday, when the full Texas Senate passed SB1—the budget bill that the Senate Finance Committee passed earlier this month—there was little carnage, and mostly camaraderie. The vote in favor was 29-2.
In 2011, by comparison, the budget bill passed on a 19-12 vote. Some of the funding that was cut that year will be restored, though not all, and SB1 even calls for some new infrastructure investments. Robert Duncan, a Republican senator from Lubbock, said that he was happy the state would finally be able to take on some projects that had been pushed off for years because the money just wasn’t there.
The most vigorous opposition came from Wendy Davis, a Democrat from Fort Worth, who drew statewide attention in 2011 after a filibuster at the end of the regular session that effectively triggered an immediate special session—a filibuster that was in protest to that year’s harsh budget cuts. Davis has already tangled with Tommy Williams, R-Woodlands, several times this session, over the supplemental appropriations bill, for example, and over a bill that would require drug testing for welfare recipients. In