Senators Florence Shapiro and Steve Ogden both tell me a deal is done on the budget. Ogden says negotiations continue on exactly how to pay for it but that it is close. Public education will be funded at the Senate level, which is about $4 billion more than was in the House bill. The Senate had wanted $1 billion more than the House for higher education, but is settling for $830 million. The $830 million in EduJobs money is not being used in the calculations for funding public education. Governor Rick Perry’s office already has distributed that money to local school districts. Ogden said part of the public education funding is coming from the Legislature making a higher estimate of local property tax revenues than what Comptroller Susan Combs made in her revenue estimate. That will not make a difference in Combs certifying the budget, he said, because the Legislative Budget Board sets the estimate on how much money property taxes will bring in. Bu the deal still requires passage of the fiscal matters bills in the House. House Republican Caucus Chairman Larry Taylor told me closing the deal should be easier now that there will be no further raids on the rainy day fund. He said most House members will have their concerns over public school funding resolved when they see the numbers on a run of the Scott Hochberg amendment with the higher levels of Senate funding in it.
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