With all the other legislative activity going on as the session winds down, I'd almost lost track of the one thing the Lege must do, which is pass a budget. They're almost there, according to the conference chairs.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, said early this morning that lead negotiators have agreed on a two-year state spending plan that will total about $152 billion.
The deal will avert a threatened veto of education spending by Gov. Rick Perry by addressing changes he sought in university funding, said Ogden, R-Bryan. He and House Appropriations Chairman Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, met Wednesday with the GOP governor.
Perry has sought incentive funding for higher education to boost graduation rates; urged the drastic reduction of funding for special item initiatives, which aren't tied to enrollment; and sought a change in the budget format so he can more freely use his line-item veto power.
The governor has complained that the current budget format would force him to veto a campus's entire funding to get at spending he doesn't like.
Ogden said the deal puts in an additional $100 million for the higher education incentives sought by Perry. The overall bill pattern isn't changed, but some special funding items are shifted so that Perry can strike them if he likes, Ogden said, while adding, "I hope he doesn't veto any of them."