What exactly is the constitutional spending limit? That question, along with the question of why it’s so politically risky to vote to “bust” the cap, will be on the mind of many a House member Thursday when that chamber takes up the budget bill, CSSB 1.
A central conceptual problem with Texas's ongoing resistance to the federal government's effort to expand Medicaid is that while Texas's Republican leadership have a point—it would be better to spend money on an efficient entitlement program than a bloated and dysfunctional one—they haven't fully specified what a Texas approach to Medicaid would entail.
“Penny-wise, pound-foolish!” is emerging as a rallying cry for Texas’s fiscal conservatives this session.
Not the catchiest slogan, perhaps, but it does have a certain resonance in an abstemious state like Texas, where the only thing less popular than a modest tax increase is the prospect of a bigger tax increase a few years from now.
The 83rd Lege has started to hear this session's "sunset" bills. The first to come to the House floor, on Wednesday, concerned the Public Utility Commission. It passed, but as Paul Burka explained on BurkaBlog, there was a bit of a scrap on the floor:
Every now and then, the House of Representatives finds itself involved in a battle that no one expected and is of absolutely no consequence. Such a battle occurred yesterday...
"For those who can afford it, we have a top-notch legal system," said Wallace B. Jefferson, the chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court, on March 6th.
He was speaking in the state House of Representatives, to a joint session of the House and Senate. By law, the Texas legislature hears from the state's top judge during every regular session. Jefferson was appointed chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court in 2004, so it was his fifth "state of the judiciary" address, and perhaps his most ambitious.
The debate over whether Texas should expand its Medicaid program is still raging. Funding the current program, though: that much we can do. The proof came on Tuesday, when the Senate passed its version of HB10, the first supplemental appropriations bill of the session. The bill, which the House of Representatives passed last week, allocates about $4.7 billion from the state's general revenue accounts to pay for Medicaid spending in the current (2012-2013) biennium.
Outlined against a bright blue February sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore their names are Death, Destruction, Pestilence, and Famine. But those are aliases. Their real names are: Scott Turner (R-Richardson), Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth), James Frank (R-Wichita Falls), and Travis Clardy (R-Nacogdoches).
Does the will exist in the Capitol to restore the deep cuts to women's health from last session? Maybe, if the opinion of a Senate finance committee working group is shared by the rest of the Legislature.
In the end, the drama in the House resulted from a complete lack of drama. Lawmakers had been gearing up for its initial fight of the session over HB 10, a $4.8 billion supplemental appropriation that would, among other things, cover a looming Medicaid shortfall in the current budget cycle. As one lawmaker commented as he moved briskly down the aisle after the House had been called to order, “Is today the first day of real work?”
Austin is known, somewhat ostentatiously, as the Live Music Capital of the World, but as any longtime resident knows, the best show in town is not a musical performance at all. In fact, it is mostly tuneless, it has little in the way of rhythm, and no one has ever tried to dance to it (except, perhaps, for the occasional lobbyist). I am speaking, of course, about the pageant that descends on the state capital every odd-numbered year, when the 181 members of the Texas state legislature arrive.