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The Brief: Top Texas News for March 30, 2011

With the big vote on massive budget cuts two days away, the pressure may be getting to some House Republicans.

Rep. Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie) listens to House Speaker Joe Straus (r) on March 2, 2011

The Big Conversation:

With the big vote on massive budget cuts two days away, the pressure may be getting to some House Republicans.

Jim Pitts, Republican of Waxahachie and the chairman of House Appropriations Committee, told the San Antonio Express-News after a closed-door meeting with the House Republican Caucus on Tuesday that the sweeping cuts laid out in the House budget proposal — which will be taken up Friday — have some GOP members on edge.

"There's a huge concern about what's going to happen in nursing homes," Pitts said. "And what's close to all of us — we all have a public school in our district — is what's going to happen to our schools?"

Pitts said the budget process wasn't complete and signaled that he expected lawmakers would eventually be able to scale back some of these reductions.

House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, called it "the beginning of the process." He added, "I would say judge us by the budget we pass as a Legislature, not as a first, early-in-the-process budget proposal."

And while the bill is widely expected pass out of the House (though not without lengthy debate, which could push proceedings into the weekend), the real negotiating will take place when the House has to reconcile its legislation with a version proposed by the Senate, which has been less willing to accept the House's huge cuts.

The budget process still have you a little confused? Check out our nifty budget-cycle graphic, which breaks down the process step by step and will get you up to speed on where we are.

Culled:

  • Two death row inmates have filed suit against the state for changing the drug it uses to administer lethal injections without soliciting input from the condemned inmates and the public.
  • Your curious bill find of the day: House Bill 716, "relating to the taking of certain feral hogs using a helicopter."

"I think my Republican colleagues are beginning to listen to Texans who are calling their offices, who are showing up at the Capitol or writing to their newspapers." — State Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, on House Republican leaders' talk of tempering budget cuts

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