5:55 p.m. by
Senate Finance Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, told members that the budget cuts were made "not because we wanted to but because the public demanded it."
"This has been the single most challenging process I have been involved in since running for the Texas House. "
5:56 p.m. by
Over here in the House, Pitts is laying out the resolution needed to take up the budget.
5:58 p.m. by
Ogden says lowering Medicaid estimates was only responsible because there's enough Rainy Day money to cover it.
He says, "We will not be short more than $5 billion under the most pessimistic scenario that I'm aware of."
6 p.m. by
Odgen: Without new revenues, "You've got to make a decision on what is an appropriate cut and what is a draconian cut."
6:02 p.m. by
Ogden tells Sen. Rodney Ellis that even with the $4 billion less in state funding to public schools: "You can still get a first class education in Texas, all you've got to do is want one."
6:03 p.m. by
House passed budget resolution, now taking up the actual budget.
6:04 p.m. by
Pitts, in the House, says conference committee version of the budget is an improvement: We added nearly $1.2 billion (for public education). We increased funding for financial aid. We added funding for community colleges. "Combined we increased funding for higher education by more than $850 million."
6:05 p.m. by
Ellis tells Ogden he's a great policy mind but a "good spinner" too. He's speaking against the budget, which he says makes the most severe cuts in state history.
"We won't use the word severe, let's use largest," responds Ogden.
6:05 p.m. by
Pitts in the House: "Some may argue we have not added enough money. Some may argue we added too much. In reality that budget we passed in April dangerously underfunded critical parts of state government."
6:07 p.m. by
Pitts: "This budget doesn't hurt our economy. In fact the investments we're making in higher education, transportation funding and cancer research alone will create thousands of jobs within the next biennium. Your vote should not be a party vote."
6:07 p.m. by
"For the vast majority of people that I represent, and most members on this floor represent, most people in Texas are nowhere near middle class...and I dont think that this budget...does justice to them and answers the hard questions," Ellis says, adding, "I don't think anyone on this floor would have gotten defeated or will be defeated if we used the Rainy Day Fund. That's about someone else's political aspirations."
6:09 p.m. by
Pitts says cuts to nursing homes have been largely averted: "We added $173 million so the only reduction our nursing homes have received is a 3 percent reduction they took in 2010-11."
6:11 p.m. by
Pitts: We are only now making our way out of the worst recession since the great depression.... This is a budget that expects this state to live within its means but also provide the means for this state to continue to grow and continue to prosper.
6:12 p.m. by
"If we will just tighten our belts for two years," says Ogden, "We'll be able to do a lot better job with the budget in two years," because of the improving economy.
6:13 p.m. by
Hochberg at the back mic, questioning the level of financial aid in the budget. "You would agree with me that that number still is substantially below the current biennium number of students receiving aid."
6:15 p.m. by
Lucio says he's voting nay against the budget "with a lump in my throat" because of the respect he feels for Ogden. He adds: "I hope next session we can make a firmer commitment to our bipartisan tradition like our two-thirds rule...it protects us from short-term thinking." Recall that the Senate passed HB 1 using an arcane rule that allowed them to avoid collecting the two-thirds votes needed to bring it for consideration on the floor.
6:18 p.m. by
Ogden says he's frustrated that the Legislature didn't vote for the "billions of dollars" outside the state treasury — like the Tobacco Fund — to cover some of the budget hole. "Texas, once again, is not broke, it has billions of dollars in money, what we are dealing with is a cash flow problem," he says.
6:18 p.m. by
Villarreal at the bac mic now: Saying that despite Pitts' claims it's an improvement, "other health care providers are going to see an additional 27 percent cut relative to current service funding."
6:20 p.m. by
Villarreal launches into women's health and family planning services. "My understanding is the cuts implemented on this House floor remain. And when you aggregate what the changes are... there's a drop of about 66 percent." ($60-some million)
6:21 p.m. by
Villarreal says 280,000 will no longer have access to family planning services. Rep. Zerwas, who's on the conference committee, acknowledges: "It's a significant number."
6:23 p.m. by
Ogden pushing the argument that the improving economy is going to ease budget woes next time around hard. He says the Legislature made the cuts because "the state's electorate demanded that we do them."
6:25 p.m. by
Sen. Whitmire's up on the mic now, challenging Ogden on the point that the electorate wanted the cuts. He asks: So did voters two years ago want us to spend $15 billion more then? Who were we responding to then?
6:25 p.m. by
Pitts: "I cannot go through every line item in this budget" — as the line at the back mic grows.
6:27 p.m. by
Whitmire says that Ogden has to distinguish between wanting reductions in Washington government and state government. "Because I think in Texas voters still want us to provide basic services," he says.
6:28 p.m. by
"I think you make a good point," Ogden tells Whitmire, about the fear of Washington spending, "But what's going on in Washington had a dominating impact on what we did here."
6:28 p.m. by
Gallego at the back mic: "There are more kids in the public school of this state now than there were two years ago. But there's not more money going to the schools than there was two years ago." Pitts says some of these issues will be addressed tomorrow when the House takes up SB 1811, a fiscal matters bill.
6:30 p.m. by
Gallego: Questioning why Article III, education, was left for the end. "It would seem to me, what happens is, you decided how much to spend on everything else, and what was left over is what public ed gets."
6:30 p.m. by
Whitmire trying to pin Ogden on a comment he made last week saying that the budget wouldn't force school districts to layoff employees. Ogden says it's true, districts have three options: 1. Spend their reserves 2. Raise property taxes or 3. Tighten their belts in other areas.
6:32 p.m. by
Pitts: The majority of the members in this House had a desire not to raise taxes. I heard the election results in November.
6:35 p.m. by
Castro asking how much revenue was raised by new fees.
Pitts: The only fees we increased since we left this chamber was bills that passed this chamber, and bills that passed the Senate chamber, that increased fees to pay for certain projects. I think it was $23-25 million.
6:39 p.m. by
Whitmire asks Ogden about his remarks on opening day about the importance of reforming the business tax, something lawmakers didn't get around to this session.
It brings in about $4 billion less than anticipated, Ogden says, and that is making it much more difficult to keep property taxes low.
"Behind Medicaid," he says the business tax, "is the single biggest problem I can think of."
6:40 p.m. by
Rep. Reynolds speaking in opposition to the budget. Says Pitts should be commended for his hard work. But says HB 1 is disastrous. "We chose to look at short-term solutions and gimmicks, using bandaids and chewing gum... to get us through the session."
6:42 p.m. by
Freshman Sen. Jose Rodriguez tells Ogden: "Democrats are invited to the dance but left stranded on the dance floor."
6:42 p.m. by
House Democrats want a new set of school district runs that don't include the $830 million the federal government has released to Texas. They contend including it distorts what the new school finance formulas actually do. The school formulas — up for approval in House and Senate tomorrow — are key to making this budget balance. Here's the Democrats are saying, from their letter to House Speaker Joe Straus (the signers are Garnet Coleman, Jessica Farrar, Pete Gallego, and Sylvester Turner):
These funds are not included in HB 1 and are not part of the school finance package being presented to legislators. Because we are preparing to consider legislation and a budget that negatively impacts our school districts by $4 billion, we request the Legislative Budget Board provide a revised analysis without the Edujobs funds to more accurately reflect the impact our local districts will feel upon passage of HB 1 and SB 1811.
6:46 p.m. by
Sen. Judith Zaffirini up now: "Budget is a compromise between the House's horrific budget and the Senate's awful alternative."
6:49 p.m. by
Rep. Otto speaking for the budget: "This is by far the most difficult budget any of us on Appropriations have worked on." He said the budget is "the best we can do on the priorities of the House with the resources we have."
6:51 p.m. by
Rep. Davis: "We keep saying we're not raising revenue but we're feeing them to death. It's flooding and we need to be using those (Rainy Day) monies."
6:56 p.m. by
Democrats in the House keep speaking out agains the budget. Conference committee members are defending their hard work. Crownover up now.
6:57 p.m. by
In the Senate, Democrats all start out their anti-HB 1 harangues with Ogden love-fests. "I love the way that you pinch your cheeks" when you get nervous, says Sen. Leticia Van De Putte.
7:02 p.m. by
Not surprisingly, prospective U.S. Sen. Dan Patrick is the first Republican to stand up to speak on HB 1.
"So this budget is a budget that lives within our means and does not raise taxes?" he asks. "Yes," Ogden says.
And here we go with the vote.
7:06 p.m. by
20 ayes, 11 nays: the Senate has adopted the conference committee report on HB 1.
7:09 p.m. by
And Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's press release has already popped into my inbox:
"When we started this process, liberal interest groups were clamoring for a $10 billion increase in spending. The Texas budget shows Washington and the other 49 states that it's possible to make government live within its means without raising taxes. This budget makes a historic $15 billion cut from current spending, while still providing ample funding for our good teachers, our school children and our seniors."
7:10 p.m. by
The vote was all of the Republican senators plus Hinojosa, the vice chairman of Finance.
7:13 p.m. by
Castro suggests that gaming should've been considered, because it's not a mandatory way to raise revenue: "That never had a serious discussion in this legislative session."
7:30 p.m. by
Rep. Villarreal: "This budget is a betrayal of Texas families."
7:31 p.m. by
Villarreal: "We had other choices we could have made, but the Legislature failed to have the courage to do what's right for all of Texas. Budget cuts will have a disproportionate effect on women."
7:58 p.m. by
Hinojosa was the only Democrat to vote for the budget. He's the vice chairman of Finance.
8 p.m. by
Ogden was all smiles after the vote. Even the senators who voted against the budget showered him with praise for his work on it.
All of the photos here were shot by Bob Daemmrich for the Tribune.
8:06 p.m. by
Rep. Turner: "Come May of 2013, this budget... will run out of money. Providers in our hospitals will not be paid. And what we have done... is that we have placed $4.8 billion on what I call the Medicaid mastercard."
8:11 p.m. by
Turner: This budget is shaky at its best. And for all of my conservative friends, no taxes - true - no rainy day fund - true - but deferrals, some speedups, funding that's questionable all exists.
8:15 p.m. by
House passes budget 97-53. Among Republicans voting against: Simpson, Pena, Van Taylor.
8:20 p.m. by
House adopts conference committee report on HB 1. Republican "no" votes include Peña (Edinburg) V. Taylor (Plano) Simpson (Longview) and Torres (Corpus Christi)
8:29 p.m. by
House adjourns until 1p.m. Sunday.