Wrecks and Roadblocks

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.

The Tea Party Influence

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than last time around, and although it doesn’t break the spending cap, it does allow for about $2 billion dollars to be withdrawn from the Rainy Day Fund to pay for water. 

Moving Forward on Medicaid

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.

A Call to Arms

“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.

A Band-Aid for Medicaid

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.

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