Who’d have thought a tea party freshman who dropped out of high school would become a media sensation?
Although the Eighty-third regular legislative session was, by most accounts, a good one—or at least better than the one that preceded it—there was one major issue that didn’t get nearly the traction leaders in both chambers had hoped for: transportation.
Brian D. Sweany, Erica Grieder, Sonia Smith, and I joined Evan Smith of the Texas Tribune to talk about our picks for the 2013 Ten Best/Ten Worst Legislators list. Watch the episode below, and be sure to pick up the July issue, which features the full article, available next Thursday.
On Friday, a joint conference committee from the House and Senate announced a budget deal for the 2014-2015 biennium. The result, assuming that it passes the full House and Senate next week, comes in at about $195.5 billion—more than last time around, and although it doesn’t break the spending cap, it does allow for about $2 billion dollars to be withdrawn from the Rainy Day Fund to pay for water.
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:
“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.