By Paul Emerson
TAC State Financial Analyst
The Senate voted 19-12, along party lines, to pass its version of the state budget. The Committee Substitute for House Bill 1 (CSHB 1) is now headed to a conference committee to resolve what is anticipated to be a $12 billion difference between the House and Senate’s respective budgets. As of now, the House budget stands at $164.5 billion, while the Senate version comes in at $176.5 billion.
SENATE RULE 5.10 (HOUSE BILL DAY)
In what is considered a rare move, the Senate was able to bypass the longstanding tradition of using the two-thirds rule to bring up CSHB 1 for a floor vote. Instead of relying on 21 members to consider a bill (a rule that promotes bi-partisanship), the Senate used Senate Rule 5.10 to bring up CSHB 1 on Wednesday, May 4. This rule, known as the “House Bill Day,” allows a house bill to be brought up on Wednesdays or Thursdays in the Senate without meeting the two-thirds rule. Senate Rule 5.10 has been around for some time, but not in recent memory has it been used on such an important bill as the general appropriations act.
In order to get all 19 Republicans to vote in favor of CSHB 1, including Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston), who voted against the bill while it was in the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Steve Ogden (R-Bryan) offered an unprecedented floor amendment to CSHB 1: leaving the proposed $3 billion in Rainy Day Funds off the table and making up for it with cuts to agencies (but not education) while bumping a $1.25 billion Medicaid payment into 2013. It has been a longstanding Senate tradition not to offer floor amendments on the state budget. After this maneuver, even Senate Finance Committee Vice-Chair Sen. Juan Hinojosa (D-McAllen) voted against CSHB 1.
There is some doubt as to whether the new method of finance used in Ogden’s floor amendment will make up the $3 billion previously proposed from the Rainy Day Fund. The committee conference report for HB 1 is expected to more closely resemble the House version than the Senate budget.
For more information on this article, contact Paul Emerson, TAC state financial analyst, at (800) 456-5974 or .