After a week (or more) of animosity, House and Senate conferees have come to an agreement on one part of the budget. In the end, the sticking point was the System Benefit Fund, an obscure line in the state budget that has traditionally been a parking place for funds budget writers have used to assure certification of the budget by the comptroller. As Sylvester Turner explained it to me last night, the fund, which gets its money from a miniscule fee on electric bills, will continue in existence for three years. During that period, the money in the fund will continue to be accessible by families who need help paying their electric bills in the hot summer months, as has been the case in the past. Thereafter, the fund, and the fee, will go out of existence, which, as Tommy Williams said, is like getting a $300 million tax cut each biennium.
AP Photo | Harry Cabluck