Budget heads to the Governor

In the end, thanks in large part to the stimulus package and its infusion of funds that prevented the need to dip into the Rainy Day Fund, the budget process was relatively uncontroversial. Yesterday, it was passed by the House, and is now on its way to Governor Perry's desk.

With just three days left in the 81st Texas Legislature, the only thing certain was the state's $182.3 billion budget, which, among other things, increases spending for the mentally disabled, correctional officer salaries, college financial aid and pre-kindergarten programs. Most of the money, which includes $12.1 billion in federal economic stimulus dollars, is dedicated to education and health care.

The vote in the House was 142-2, after unanimous passage in the Senate. Perry is certain to do some line-item vetoing, if only to remind us that he can. Odds are he'll pick something that no one will see coming. We'll know soon enough.

Of greater interest at this time is the handful of bills that are still struggling to stay alive.

The House kept the debate on windstorm insurance reform alive by agreeing to seek a compromise on the bill in a joint conference committee. Perry has told lawmakers he will call a special session if the windstorm insurance reform does not pass.

At issue is how to keep solvent the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, which provides insurance for homeowners who cannot find private coverage -- without pushing insurance rates up. Hurricanes Ike and Dolly busted the association with an unexpected $2 billion in payouts.

Rep. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood said they hope to reach a settlement so as "not to have a special session."

Here's the conference committee information. They have till midnight tonight to work it out, get a bill printed, and distribute it to members. Tall order, but doable.

Also Friday, Sen. Kip Averitt, R-Waco, said he was still trying to revive the Children's Health Insurance Program. An effort earlier this week to piggyback CHIP on a bill for newborn disease screening did not comply with House rules that subjects be "germane."

Although a coalition representing 70 groups called on legislative leaders to "take all necessary means" to pass the bill, the prospect is dim.

Apparently, the measure to which the CHIP bill had been attached as an amendment, which had originally been sent back by the House because author Paula Pierson didn't think it would concur, has now been approved for a conference committee, but that's to remove the CHIP amendment so the original bill, having to do with newborn screening, can pass. There's still the original House CHIP bill by Rep. Garnet Coleman, which hasn't been approved by the Senate but still could if they agree to suspend the rules to bring it up. I'm not holding my breath on that one. The Chron editorializes today in favor of taking action, while Rick Casey took Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and Sen. Steve Ogden to task for not getting this right the first time.

Disputes also were holding up a bill to renew the life of the Texas Department of Transportation for another two years. Portions of the bill call for a local option gas tax, supported by business leaders and elected officials from North Texas and San Antonio.

In Harris County, officials are keeping an eye on a provision that could limit or ban new cameras being placed at intersections to catch red-light runners.

That one could get ugly. Rep. Joe Pickett has called out lobbyists who are agitating over the local-option tax, which has both strong support and strong opposition. More from McBlogger and EoW, both of whom are in the latter camp. On a tangential note, the Chron rails against the attempt by the state to meddle in local affairs regarding red light cameras.

Finally, one bit of bad news.

At the stroke of midnight on Friday, House Bill 1243 turned into a pumpkin and a fairy godmother was nowhere to be found to save it or the electric cooperative measure attached to it.

Provisions to improve accountability in the electric cooperatives, including Pedernales Electric Cooperative, had been tacked on to the bill in the Senate. And Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, challenged whether that amendment and others belonged on the bill.

A lengthy confab at the dais followed by a postponement delayed a vote on whether to send the bill to a conference committee, called for by Turner, until shortly before midnight. That vote failed 48 to 90.

But by the time Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, stepped to the microphone to save the bill, it was too late.

Another half-hour of parliamentary hand-wringing ensued. But, in the end, the glass slipper didn't fit.

That unfortunately means that SB545, the solar bill, is dead as well. Major bummer about that.

05/30/09 | permalink | comments [1]

CHIP dies again


Gov. Rick Perry today indicated that he opposes a plan to expand the Children's Health Insurance Program, putting in jeopardy of a veto a measure that has been a top priority this session for children's advocates.

But the CHIP bill appears unlikely to make it to his desk at all. The House today rejected a Senate attempt to attach it to an unrelated measure.

Talking with reporters, Perry was asked if he'd consider having the Legislature take up CHIP if he calls a special session. He said no.

When asked why not, Perry said: "I would probably not be in favor of that expansion even if it came to my desk. I think the members know that. That is not what I consider to be a piece of legislation that has the vast support of the people of the state of Texas."


The Senate late Wednesday revived the CHIP legislation by attaching it to a measure about newborn screening, and the CHIP bill's Senate author, Sen. Kip Averitt, R-Waco, sent out a press release declaring: "Averitt saves CHIP."

The author of the newborn screening measure, Rep. Paula Pierson, D-Arlington, who supports the CHIP expansion, said today the House is sending the screening bill back to the Senate. That's because the CHIP amendment would have doomed the measure in the House, she said. "It was dead on arrival," Pierson said.

I presume that the likelihood of a point of order, which would have scuttled the bill, was enough to get the House to send it back. Our Governor, as a matter of policy, thinks that having fewer kids be able to get access to health care is a preferable outcome. And for this, he's the darling of those who call themselves Christian activists. Go figure. Rep. Garnet Coleman, in a statement he sent out to the press, speaks for me:

It is unconscionable, in these tough economic times, that Governor Perry will veto legislation that will help working Texas parents purchase insurance for their children. Legislation creating a buy-in program for CHIP passed last night with a 29-2 vote in the Senate, and it passed last month from the House with a vote of 87-55. This bill was specifically written with the strictest "crowd out" language possible to ensure that private health insurance is not substituted by CHIP coverage. The Governor is clearly out of touch with the needs of Texas.

Sadly, that's been that's been the case for a long time. We're all the worse for it.

05/28/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Unemployment insurance dies, CHIP lives

Not unexpectedly, SB1569 was a casualty of the weekend chubfest. Also not surprisingly, it was basically chubbed by Republicans, who wanted to ensure its death as the local and consent calendar was finally finished up a little before the midnight deadline. I'm disappointed to see this bill die, but given that it hadn't been passed by a veto-proof majority in time for the inevitable veto to be overridden, it was doomed anyway. If that helps the House Republicans blow off some steam, then so be it.

On the good side, CHIP expansion got new life.

The Texas Senate late Wednesday, facing a midnight deadline, used a House bill concerning newborn screening to revive a measure aimed at expanding the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Sen. Kip Averitt, R-Waco, put SB841 (the CHIP expansion bill) into HB1795, which was approved 28-2 by the Senate.

The CHIP amendment allows some families with incomes above current limits to buy into the insurance program.

The measure now heads back to the House with changes approved in the Senate.

One hopes it will be accepted as amended. That's at least one less casualty from the weekend.

I'm including an excerpt from Ed Sills' Texas AFL-CIO email newsletter about SB1569 beneath the fold. Click on to read it.

UPDATE: Floor Pass, quoting Harvey Kronberg, thinks the CHIP add-on might fall victim to a point of order.

Continue reading »

05/28/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Budget yes, UI not yet

The conference committee on the budget finished its work yesterday.

While final details are still emerging, the 10 conferees worked out a last minute plan for spending $700 million of federal stimulus money for state fiscal stabilization. They hope that it will avert a special session, even if Perry vetoes some or all of the money. It appeared to go to school textbooks in part. And there were other things funded that are near and dear to the Perry family, such as preservation of a couple more county courthouses ($7 million) and restoring the fire-gutted Governor's Mansion.

Burkablog and Floor Pass, which notes that the committee will vote out the budget on Tuesday, fill in a few more details. The first obstacle is making sure Governor Perry will sign it, but so far there's no evidence that he wants to force a do-over. Not dipping into the Rainy Day Fund, for which we can all thank President Obama and the stimulus package, likely helps out there.

Unclear at this time is the fate of the Davis/Walle amendment, which would drain money from the Texas Enterprise Fund in the event that SB1569 gets vetoed. And speaking of SB1569, it took a few steps forward in the House, but ultimately was not brought to a vote. The best writeup I've seen about what went on during this comes from Ed Sills' TxAFLCIOENews; I've reproduced it beneath the fold.

According to Brandi Grissom on Twitter, the House has recessed for the night due to its computers being down, without having passed any bills today. They're scheduled to work Saturday and Sunday, and according to Gardner Selby, voter ID is supposedly atop the calendar for Saturday. That's assuming they actually get to it - as we've seen multiple times this session, being on the calendar is no guarantee of anything. The Democrats will surely do what they can to run out the clock if they feel they must. We'll see how far down the agenda the House gets tomorrow.

Continue reading »

05/21/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Ogden stem cell rider removed from budget


Sen. Steve Ogden just announced that his rider banning use of state funds for embryonic stem cell research will not appear in the new state budget.

"We really couldn't come to a consensus" so the bill will be silent on the stem cell issue, Ogden announced in this morning's conference committee meeting on the budget bill. "I continue to be concerned about us continuing to be silent" on what he called "a profound issue."

While the federal government has guidelines and regulations concerning use of federal money in such research, "in Texas there are none. I hope even though we adopt this rider (the House version, which was silent on stem cell research), it is not the last word on this subject," Ogden said.

That's fine by me. I strongly disagree with Sen. Ogden's position on this issue, but I'd be happy to have the fight in the House and in the Senate, through the committee process and on the floor, out in the open for all to see. What we got instead was a sneak attack, which gave no one the chance to argue against it. Given that the House did not concur, it was only right to not force the issue via the conference committee, so kudos to Sen. Ogden for not going to the mat over this. Bring it up in 2011 and we can try to settle it then.

Now, if the Davis/Walle amendment on unemployment insurance and the Texas Enterprise Fund survives, then I'll be even happier. The House is supposed to take up SB1569 tomorrow, which likely doesn't leave enough time to pass it and override a veto, so the best bet to make sure Texas gets the unemployment funds it needs is to make it painful for Rick Perry to reject them. Let's hope it happens.

05/19/09 | permalink | comments [0]

The fees not paid

The battle over the dueling strip club bills in the Lege this session has mostly been over how much revenue each would collect. But the state has to actually collect that revenue for any of that to be relevant.

Dozens of strip clubs across Texas have ignored a 2007 law requiring them to charge a $5-per-patron entrance fee, potentially costing the state millions of dollars meant to fund sexual assault programs, records show.

Not a dime has yet been used to help the victims of sexual assault.

Since the law went into effect last year, only about $12.2 million has been collected by the state under the law for sexual assault prevention and treatment, far less than the $50 million that had been expected.

"We are, of course, disappointed," said Annette Burrhus-Clay, executive director of the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault. "But hopefully there will be more resources set aside for the comptroller to actually monitor this in the future."

For whatever the reason, I don't recall seeing that $50 million figure before, but it's right there in the fiscal note to the original bill, so it must just be a case of faulty memory on my part. Having said that, the modified bill filed by Rep. Ellen Cohen was projected to bring in $16.5 million in annual revenue, or about a third as much. I suppose that's why the $50 million figure surprised me; the difference is so great.

Cohen said she wasn't surprised that some clubs have ignored the current law, especially in light of the uncertainty created by the court challenge and by the pending legislation.

"If they want to wait and see what's going to happen, that's their choice. They may end up having to pay it and penalties -- I don't know," she said. "I do respect those clubs that have stepped up to the plate and paid."


Topless and nude clubs in Houston and San Antonio have remitted about $4.3 million, about a third of the state total, records show.

More than 100 clubs, however, have ignored the fee entirely, while others have paid only small amounts. Some say they don't want to charge customers more at the door.

Obviously, the court challenge changed things, but I have to ask - what would be the enforcement mechanism for this? I'm guessing a civil suit brought by the Attorney General. I suppose any license renewals, say from the TABC, can be denied pending payment of back taxes as well. Anybody know the answer for sure?

05/18/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Another win for CHIP

Good news on the CHIP front.

The Texas House today gave final approval to a measure that would expand the Children's Heath Insurance Program by allowing certain families who earn more than the current income limit to pay to join the program. The vote was 87-55.

The measure could add some 80,000 children to CHIP. It now heads to the Senate, which has already passed a similar measure.

The bill passed yesterday is HB2962. The Senate measure that had passed earlier is SB841.

The author of the CHIP bill, Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, said he fully agrees with expanding the Medicaid enrollment period. But he said that sending the CHIP bill to the Senate with the Medicaid measure attached may have doomed the entire measure. "It would have become a poison pill," Coleman said.

The Medicaid proposal by Rep. Sylvester Turner, D- Houston, has a much larger price tag than the CHIP one -- nearly $300 million over two years, compared to about $40 million for the CHIP bill. The Medicaid proposal could add some 258,000 children to Medicaid.

Coleman said that it's become clear that the state budget won't include money for the Medicaid proposal. Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, who is on the House team negotiating the final version of the budget with members of the Senate, said that though the Medicaid bill has "a pretty steep price tag," it's too early to say for sure whether it has a future in the budget.

The income limit for CHIP is now $44,100 for a family of four. (It's $22,050 for Medicaid).

Under the CHIP bill, a family of four earning between $44,100 and and $66,150 a year could join the program. Unlike the existing CHIP program, families would pay monthly premiums on a sliding scale based on income and family size. The House version would also allow families of four earning between $66,150 and $88,200 to pay the full cost of the program to join (roughly $150 per child per month). Also, the House version would reinstate a "medically needy" program for adults that the Legislature cut in 2003 -- it covers health care costs for people with catastrophic medical needs.

It would be very nice to be able to add those kids to Medicaid, but given the Senate's manufactured crisis over Medicaid, I'm not optimistic. Still, it's great to see CHIP getting re-expanded back towards pre-2003 numbers. The need for it is as great as it's ever been, that's for sure. I've got a statement from Rep. Coleman about this beneath the fold.

Continue reading »

05/16/09 | permalink | comments [2]

Poker bill dies

Last night at midnight was the first major deadline in the House. Any bill that had not been passed on second reading was officially dead for the session, though some may get reincarnated as amendments to already-approved bills. About three quarters of the 5000 bills filed in the House suffered this fate, including some high profile ones such as the concealed-carry on campus bill and, I'm sad to say, HB222, the poker bill.

A proposed constitutional amendment to legalize casino gambling never made it onto the calendar. Sponsors had said they would not ask it to be set unless there were enough votes to pass. They never reached the necessary 100 votes.

The bill to legalize poker games at horse and dog tracks had a chance of getting on the calendar, but sponsor Rep. Jose Menendez, D-San Antonio, said he was pulling it off because Gov. Rick Perry's staff assured him the governor would veto it.

"Sometimes you flush good will if you put a dead bill out on the floor," Menendez said, explaining his decision to withdraw the measure without debate.

And with that, none of the bills that would have authorized an expansion of gambling made it through.

Their chances looked better than ever this year, with a strapped state budget and a new House speaker with interests in a San Antonio racetrack.

But in the end, lawmakers say, the expectation of federal stimulus dollars kept the state from getting desperate for money. And the major casino gambling legislation needed 100 votes in the 150-member House, a threshold that the bill's sponsors couldn't reach in such a divided chamber. And even if the poker bill had passed, Gov. Rick Perry probably would've vetoed it.

"We came into the session billions of dollars short. The stimulus pulled us out of dire straits," said Menendez, D-San Antonio. "If we were cutting school budgets and not giving teachers raises, we would see a lot more willingness."

Gambling opponents say it's easy to blame the bill's failure on a budget bailout. But they argue that the real reason gambling gets no traction session after session is because it's bad policy.

Suzii Paynter, with the Baptist General Convention's Christian Life Commission, said the promises of jobs and tax revenue that supporters make are exaggerated.

"Gaming legislation has failed because the more people look into the promises that are made, the more weaknesses they see in the proposal," Paynter said.

I think there's some merit to the argument about stimulus money having an effect. I certainly thought the gloomy budget picture at the start of the session would act as a catalyst for gambling proponents. The real test will come next session, when everyone is already expecting a huge deficit and a fight over the rainy day fund, and no stimulus package to come to the rescue. I do agree that the claims of jobs and tax revenue are overstated, but they'll likely look a lot more tempting when the alternative is deep, slashing cuts to needed programs.

05/15/09 | permalink | comments [0]

More unemployment funds available

The bad news is that Texas' rate of unemployment continues to rise. The good news is that this means more federal funds for unemployment insurance are available, and these come with no conditions on them.

Texas now qualifies, thanks to the state's steadily rising unemployment rate, for $250 million of string-free federal money. That money would provide another 13 weeks of unemployment benefits -- at no cost to the state -- for some 70,000 workers whose benefits are set to expire beginning in July, according to the Center for Public Policy Priorities.

There is a catch, however. The Legislature needs to make a technical tweak to state law and the only bill that would be germane and appears to be moving is Senate Bill 1569.

That bill would enact the necessary changes for Texas to access $555 million of federal money to expand unemployment eligibility. But that money comes with strings that Gov. Rick Perry has said are unacceptable.

The bill passed out of the Senate weeks ago and is lingering in the House Calendars Committee. It could come up early next week -- and likely pass. But that would not be soon enough to allow time for a veto override should Perry choose to exercise that authority.

Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, said House members intend to attach the tweak to SB 1569 when it comes to the floor. The additional $250 million -- and the tens of thousands of unemployed workers that would get extended benefits -- might just change the dynamic for the governor, said the bill's proponents.

Bill author Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, said he has long kept hope alive that Perry would not veto the bill and this money has stoked his hope.

I had hoped that SB1569 would have been taken up in time to try to override a veto, but apparently that won't happen. Burka says the votes weren't there for the override anyway, and thought the bill was dead as a result. I certainly hope it passes regardless; even without this extra incentive, I say make Perry veto it if that's what he intends to do. Given the way some other Republican governors have folded on the issue, it's not out of the question that this was all just a bluff. Given the extra funds that are now available and the fact that the unemployment trust fund will be depleted as of July, I don't see how the Lege can't force the issue.

And if more incentive is needed, here's the CPPP with some hard figures.

As of May 5, more than 353,000 Texans were receiving unemployment benefits, more than triple the number of Texans receiving UI benefits a year ago. Currently pending in House Calendars, SB 1569 strengthens our UI system to protect unemployed Texans and qualifies Texas for $555 million in federal funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for our UI Trust Fund. But the Legislature has overlooked an entirely separate pot of money in the ARRA that is equally important. About 70,000 Texans are expected to exhaust their federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) beginning in July. The ARRA will pick up the 100 percent of the costs to extend UI for these Texans, delivering more than $250 million in federal funds into the Texas economy without any state costs. In order to qualify, Texas must change its extended benefits statutory trigger to activate the program; the change can expire when the full federal funding phases out in 2010.

Emphasis in original. The CPPP has put together this chart (PDF) showing how many people per House district stand to lose EUC funds, and how much money is at stake, if SB1569 doesn't pass. I say if that's really what Rick Perry wants, let's give him the chance to take it. As this is a bill that has already received Senate approval, it has until May 26 to pass. Let's get it done, please.

05/15/09 | permalink | comments [0]

School finance bill advances

Has there ever been a legislative session that didn't deal with school finance? This Lege is dealing with it as well, and the good news is they may have made some actual progress.

Texas teachers would get an $800-a-year raise and the Dallas school district would be protected from becoming a "Robin Hood" district for several years under a school finance bill that the House tentatively approved on Monday.

The measure also would merge the state's two teacher incentive pay plans into one program and sharply reduce the amount of the merit pay that would have to be awarded based on student test scores.

Total state funding would increase about $1.9 billion over the next two years, with school districts required to spend at least half of their new state money on teacher salaries. The Dallas school district would see its funding rise $100 per student - just under 2 percent - for a total increase of about $17.5 billion.

School districts had sought more funding, but state leaders said earlier this year that a slowdown in state revenue would prevent a sizable increase.

"Every one of our school districts needs more money," said Rep. Scott Hochberg, D-Houston, who laid out the school funding bill to the chamber. But even with the small increase, he added, "this is a fair bill and it is a balanced bill."

One significant change in the bill would raise the threshold for determining which school districts must share their property tax revenue under the Robin Hood provisions of the school finance system. Last year, those districts were required to give up more than $1 billion to help equalize funding across the state.

Two of the biggest beneficiaries are the Dallas and Houston school districts, which are expected to join the ranks of high-property-wealth districts that must share their tax revenue next year. Under the House bill, both would be protected from becoming share-the-wealth districts for several years.

The bill is HB3646, and as of this afternoon it has passed the House, on a 144-2 vote. One additional benefit as noted in this AP story is that the plan is based on a calculation of current average statewide property values, so increases are reflected immediately. This isn't perfect, but as House Public Education Chair Rob Eissler said in the Express News, it buys some time for the Lege to do more when the budget is in better shape. And this is surely a better deal than the schools would have gotten if Tom Craddick were still in charge. So we take what we can get and go from there.

05/12/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Is there a Medicaid issue or not?

05/08/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Scaling back steroid testing in the schools

05/06/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Watch out for Medicaid

05/05/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Tuition reregulation passes the Senate

05/04/09 | permalink | comments [3]

CHIP and Medicaid advance

04/29/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Get ready for the next school funding lawsuit

04/29/09 | permalink | comments [0]

House committee passes SB1569

04/28/09 | permalink | comments [0]

House budget conferees announced

04/27/09 | permalink | comments [1]

More Tier I schools

04/25/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Perry's ongoing war on the unemployed

04/24/09 | permalink | comments [3]

Where the stimulus funds are going

04/24/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Senate passes SB1569, but may not be able to override a veto

04/20/09 | permalink | comments [1]

House passes budget, slaps Perry

04/18/09 | permalink | comments [2]

Stem cells and the budget battle

04/17/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Funding the state cancer research initiative

04/17/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Senate approves stimulus funds for unemployment insurance

04/16/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Extending Medicaid

04/16/09 | permalink | comments [2]

Doing the easy part

04/15/09 | permalink | comments [0]

UI update

04/12/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Oh by the way, the unemployment trust fund is going broke

04/07/09 | permalink | comments [0]

House panel passes its budget

04/07/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Senate passes budget

04/02/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Senate committee passes unemployment insurance reform

03/31/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Senate panel approves budget

03/31/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Response from the racetracks

03/26/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Red light camera revenues unspent

03/26/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Ogden's stem cell skulduggery

03/25/09 | permalink | comments [1]

How much money would expanded gambling generate?

03/24/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Property values declining

03/22/09 | permalink | comments [2]

"What's Medicaid?"

03/22/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Coleman pushing for CHIP restoration

03/20/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Planning the workaround

03/17/09 | permalink | comments [0]

More on the end of the sixty-five percent rule

03/16/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Parker versus Perry

03/14/09 | permalink | comments [2]

Lege versus Gov on unemployment funds

03/12/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Once more with the stimulus and unemployment insurance

03/12/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Money for movies

03/12/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Two stories about gambling

03/09/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Here comes stimulus money

03/03/09 | permalink | comments [1]

The stimulus and the budget

03/02/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Reason #437 why I'm skeptical of the gambling industry

03/01/09 | permalink | comments [0]

They paid their taxes, too

02/28/09 | permalink | comments [2]

Will we or won't we fix unemployment insurance?

02/26/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Gambling poll

02/24/09 | permalink | comments [2]

Sixty-five percent of nothing

02/24/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Stimulus for the schools

02/19/09 | permalink | comments [2]

So about those stimulus funds

02/18/09 | permalink | comments [2]

Tough times for local governments

02/16/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Senate committees

01/31/09 | permalink | comments [0]

It's 2009 and we're still arguing about CHIP

01/26/09 | permalink | comments [3]

Beware Lt. Govs bearing gifts

01/23/09 | permalink | comments [0]

We have the beginnings of a budget

01/23/09 | permalink | comments [0]

When you look up "short-sighted" in the dictionary, this will be cited as an example

01/22/09 | permalink | comments [2]

There are still a few Republican grownups left

01/16/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Hey, there's an idea!

01/14/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Don't forget Frew

01/14/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Does it look like it's raining to you?

01/13/09 | permalink | comments [1]

That sound you hear is state revenues falling

01/12/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Gambling and Speaker Straus

01/10/09 | permalink | comments [2]

The sales tax slowdown

01/10/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Where the business margins tax money came from

01/08/09 | permalink | comments [0]

College issues

01/05/09 | permalink | comments [0]

The gas tax

01/04/09 | permalink | comments [3]

School finance: Sorta kinda important to the Lege

12/30/08 | permalink | comments [2]

Economy affecting school bonds

12/17/08 | permalink | comments [1]

Accenture, Texas finalize divorce

12/15/08 | permalink | comments [1]

There is no surplus

12/05/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Business tax: Still short

11/26/08 | permalink | comments [1]

Moratorium on power cutoffs urged

08/13/08 | permalink | comments [0]

HISD settles with comptroller

08/09/08 | permalink | comments [1]

It sucks to be a school district

07/31/08 | permalink | comments [1]

More flagships

07/24/08 | permalink | comments [3]

A billion short

07/22/08 | permalink | comments [0]

The tax that dare not speak its name

07/14/08 | permalink | comments [1]

TIERS for Medicaid

07/13/08 | permalink | comments [1]

College tuition, the continuing story

07/11/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Business tax revenues falling short of projections

06/26/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Dan Patrick wants to raise your taxes

06/25/08 | permalink | comments [0]

The first step in solving a problem is admitting you have a problem

06/25/08 | permalink | comments [3]

Casey on the appraisal problem

06/22/08 | permalink | comments [5]

HISD versus HCAD

06/21/08 | permalink | comments [1]

Coming attractions on the business tax

06/17/08 | permalink | comments [1]

Talking tuition

05/30/08 | permalink | comments [2]

From the "Dance with them what brung you" files

05/27/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Don't talk about tuition!

05/23/08 | permalink | comments [0]

The answer is staring you in the face

05/21/08 | permalink | comments [3]

More TIERS coming

05/19/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Business tax turmoil

05/16/08 | permalink | comments [0]

More financial gloom from the school districts

05/12/08 | permalink | comments [0]

High oil prices are good for Texas

05/07/08 | permalink | comments [2]

School districts predict financial disaster in their futures

05/02/08 | permalink | comments [0]

When all else fails, create a task force

04/25/08 | permalink | comments [2]

Twelve-month re-ups the hard way

04/23/08 | permalink | comments [0]

The DMN writes about the HHSC

04/09/08 | permalink | comments [0]

"Privatization failure is taxpayers' burden"

03/27/08 | permalink | comments [0]

TIERS and problems go hand in hand

03/10/08 | permalink | comments [0]

HISD becomes a rich district

03/08/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Time for another S-CHIP veto override effort

01/23/08 | permalink | comments [1]

The CPPP explains (again!) why Phil King's sales tax swap is a bad idea

12/14/07 | permalink | comments [0]

HHSC Employee back in the blogging saddle

12/14/07 | permalink | comments [0]

And in other news, Governor Perry's property tax cut claims are still phony

12/09/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Cornyn defends his anti-CHIP votes

11/30/07 | permalink | comments [0]

The anti-business tax sentiment

11/26/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Know your HHSC contractors

11/12/07 | permalink | comments [0]

TIERS: Still bad

11/05/07 | permalink | comments [1]

Lawmakers want agency ad dollars audited

11/04/07 | permalink | comments [1]

KBH weasels on S-CHIP

11/01/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Community college funding finally fixed

10/25/07 | permalink | comments [0]

CHIP veto upheld

10/18/07 | permalink | comments [0]

S-CHIP day

10/18/07 | permalink | comments [0]

KBH to vote for S-CHIP veto override

10/14/07 | permalink | comments [1]

Coleman to Abbott: File suit over CHIP

10/13/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Abstinence education funding cuts coming

10/07/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Comptroller blinks in dispute against HCAD

10/06/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Kay Granger targeted for S-CHIP override vote

10/06/07 | permalink | comments [1]

CPPP statement to Cornyn on S-CHIP

10/05/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Will the S-CHIP veto be overridden?

10/05/07 | permalink | comments [1]

S-CHIP vetoed

10/03/07 | permalink | comments [2]

Senate passes S-CHIP

09/28/07 | permalink | comments [2]

S-CHIP bill passes the House, but not by enough

09/26/07 | permalink | comments [3]

S-CHIP vote in the House today

09/25/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Those damn call centers again

09/23/07 | permalink | comments [0]

S-CHIP is back

09/18/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Is Rube Goldberg in the house?

08/17/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Community college leaders to state: Hurry up!

07/28/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to hire Accenture again

07/27/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Reversal of community college funding veto?

07/26/07 | permalink | comments [1]

S-CHIP: The Republican cookie crumbles

07/25/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Take action on S-CHIP

07/25/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Cigarette sales down for now

07/23/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Frew settlement okayed by judge

07/10/07 | permalink | comments [0]

More pension deal details

06/22/07 | permalink | comments [1]


06/19/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Accenture may be gone, but privatization lingers

06/14/07 | permalink | comments [1]

Budget passes

05/28/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Talton the Torpedo strikes

05/27/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Oh, yeah, the budget, too

05/27/07 | permalink | comments [0]

CHIP deal reached

05/27/07 | permalink | comments [0]

The CHIP endgame

05/25/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Budget deal reached

05/24/07 | permalink | comments [1]

Senate passes CHIP bill

05/23/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Dewhurst: Senate will pass CHIP bill today

05/22/07 | permalink | comments [0]

CHIP expansion finally nearing

05/18/07 | permalink | comments [1]

Watch out for shifting taxes

05/17/07 | permalink | comments [1]

CHIP administrative issues

05/11/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Dewhurst finally sees the light on CHIP

05/04/07 | permalink | comments [3]

"Budgets are moral documents"

05/03/07 | permalink | comments [0]

The circle of life in Lobbyist Land

05/01/07 | permalink | comments [0]

System benefit fund advances

04/26/07 | permalink | comments [0]


04/25/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Combs rescinds Strayhorn's question about the business tax

04/24/07 | permalink | comments [0]

HHSC response to OIG report

04/23/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Cigarette run!

04/22/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Fund CHIP fully or lose money

04/19/07 | permalink | comments [0]

TIERS for Albert Hawkins

04/19/07 | permalink | comments [1]

CLOUT can sue after all

04/18/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Time for the real sausagemaking to begin

04/17/07 | permalink | comments [0]

"I've got a list"

04/12/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Senate debates the budget

04/12/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Dewhurst and CHIP

04/12/07 | permalink | comments [0]

More on the Senate budget

04/11/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Did we put too much aside for Frew?

04/10/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Frew settlement

04/07/07 | permalink | comments [0]

No deal yet in Frew lawsuit

04/05/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Talton 2, Turner 0

04/03/07 | permalink | comments [1]

It wasn't all Accenture's fault

04/03/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Budget moves forward with a pay raise for teachers

03/30/07 | permalink | comments [0]

You know where you can stick your amendments

03/29/07 | permalink | comments [1]

Budget battles today

03/29/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Business tax revenue projected to fall short

03/29/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Two more things about Medicaid

03/27/07 | permalink | comments [0]

First draft of the budget passes out of committee

03/21/07 | permalink | comments [0]

The LSG evaluates the CHIP bill

03/19/07 | permalink | comments [0]

CHIPs and scraps

03/16/07 | permalink | comments [0]

What will the Medicaid ruling cost Texas?

03/14/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Accenture contract officially dead

03/13/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Looks like half a loaf for CHIP

03/09/07 | permalink | comments [0]

More CHIP resistance

03/01/07 | permalink | comments [1]

Davis supports easing CHIP requirements

02/28/07 | permalink | comments [0]

On using funds as they were dedicated

02/27/07 | permalink | comments [0]

"Bad housekeeping"

02/23/07 | permalink | comments [2]

The budget bungle

02/22/07 | permalink | comments [3]

So long, spending cap

02/21/07 | permalink | comments [1]

HB2: Property tax cuts uber alles

02/20/07 | permalink | comments [0]

House committee follows Senate's example

02/17/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Senate votes to exceed spending cap

02/15/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Loud and clear, the people say "Support public schools!"

02/14/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Will the spending cap be punted to the voters?

02/13/07 | permalink | comments [2]

Heck of a job, Albert

02/09/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Abbott sues Sprint

02/07/07 | permalink | comments [3]

Sprint says "Switch"

01/31/07 | permalink | comments [2]

Rebate this!

01/29/07 | permalink | comments [0]

The business tax needs to be fixed already

01/29/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Means and ends

01/29/07 | permalink | comments [1]

Dewhurst's misplaced priorities

01/25/07 | permalink | comments [3]

Here's a budget priority for you

01/24/07 | permalink | comments [1]

Appraisal caps no, revenue caps yes

01/24/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Another story on casino gambling in Texas

01/22/07 | permalink | comments [2]

Roll 'em if you got 'em

01/19/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Hoffman: Objectively pro-gambling

01/13/07 | permalink | comments [1]

That pesky spending cap

01/12/07 | permalink | comments [2]

Combs' first revenue estimate expected today

01/08/07 | permalink | comments [0]

How about that Houston housing market?

01/07/07 | permalink | comments [2]

No new appraisal caps?

01/05/07 | permalink | comments [1]