Note: See second update below
Whatever you may think of today’s budget bill, keep this in mind: It’s 100% the work of the Republicans, because Democratic amendments are being snuffed before they even get a chance to be debated.
The Democrats have a number of amendments to take money away from the Governor’s Texas Enterprise Fund. The money in the fund is not general revenue but is dedicated by an assessment on employers. Craddick sustained a point of order that these amendments violate the Calendars Committee rule.
The Ds are really mad about this, because their amendments in some cases were drafted by the Legislative Council–for example, Eiland’s amendment. The mistake, or the failure to realize the problem, was the Legislative Council’s. Craddick said to Eiland, in response to a parliamentary inquiry, that the responsibility for the mistake is the legislator’s, not the Legislative Council’s. Gallego went to the microphone to say that the traditional practice has been to let members cure errors. This was done during the special session, Villareal pointed out. Craddick said that this was not the policy of the chair. Eiland is really mad: You mean to tell me that these amendments were inappropriately drafted, and we can’t fix them. Craddick reiterated that it’s the member’s responsibility. Merritt went to back mike and pointed out that the head of the Legislative Council is a political hack. This is an old sore. Craddick had that slow, measure tone of voice that he uses when he is really furious.
The head of the Legislative Council is not just any old political hack, but as the Observer points out (by generously linking to this old post of mine), he’s a hack who’s a wholly owned subsidiary of one Tom Craddick. You’ll never find a bow tied up as neatly as that.
All that moots some of the latest Legislative Study Group analysis, but I’ll quote it beneath the fold anyway. Meanwhile, on a side note, today’s quote of the day comes from John Sharp, who says “I can’t think of anyone who knows less about [the new business] tax than David Dewhurst.” Click the preceeding link for context.
UPDATE More on the Craddick Hack here.
UPDATE: My bad. The stuffed amendments were not all of them, but a set of them having to do with Governor Perry’s Texas Enterprise Fund. As noted in the comments, some Dem amendments, like this one, were accepted. My apologies for the confusion.
The Office of the Governor:
Texas Enterprise Fund: The Governor requested $182 million in general revenue for the Texas Enterprise Fund. $120 million has been appropriated to TEF in Article I, and the remaining $62 million is in Article XI as an item for future consideration. The TEF is used by the Governor to grant corporate subsidies. The Skills Development Fund in Article VII provides funding to local job training programs in partnership with public community and technical colleges. A percentage of those funds are used to provide cash grants through the TEF. There is a contingency rider in Article XI that would reduce the appropriations to TEF by $12.8 million if HB 48, which has already passed in the House, becomes law. Money will still be drawn from jobs training to fund this account for the Governor’s projects. The House leadership has ruled that no proposed amendments to CSHB 1 can draw from this account to address underfunded state priorities.
Texas Emerging Technology Fund: The Governor has requested and was appropriated $100 million for the Texas Emerging Technology Fund. CSHB 1 estimates that 16 companies will be subsidized with this money. A wiser investment would be to use this money for public and higher education – a proven investment for economic growth in Texas.
Office of the State-Federal Relations: In this coming biennium, the OSFR will be receiving $1,918,452. This is money used to fund private lobbyists in Washington, D.C.
Office of the Attorney General: Child Support Enforcement received a $10 million cut in funding since the last budget biennium due to a loss in federal dollars. The amount appropriated is less than the amount requested by the AG and the amount recommended by the LBB. While Child Support Enforcement received less funding, the Attorney General’s travel fund received a boost. In comparison to the 2006-2007 budget, the Attorney General’s travel fund has increased by $1,665,666 while funding for child support enforcement has dropped.
Historical Commission: Funding for the Historical Commission has tripled since last biennium. $84,488,222 has been appropriated for the coming biennium to preserve courthouses throughout the state. While preserving our historical landmarks is important, CSHB 1 places more emphasis on courthouse preservation, instead of providing health care and a solid education for our children.