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The Brief: April 19, 2011

Senate leaders on Monday delivered one of their strongest attacks yet on the House's stark budget proposal.

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst (l), talks with Sen. Dan Patrick on the floor of the Texas Senate on April 18, 2011.

The Big Conversation:

Senate leaders on Monday delivered one of their strongest attacks yet on the House's stark budget proposal.

As reported in the Austin American-Statesman and The Dallas Morning News, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and state Sen. Steve Ogden, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the Senate wouldn't back down from fighting the types of cuts outlined in the House's recently passed budget proposal, which would slash billions of dollars in state services.

Ogden framed the fight in stark terms. "The debate is whether you want to save public education and whether you want to save nursing homes or not," he said, referring to contentious cuts in the House plan that could close nearly half the state's 1,100 nursing homes. "I think we're right, and we're going to fight for it."

Dewhurst took similar aim at House lawmakers. "The last thing we want [is] some 50,000 to 60,000 grandmas and grandpas pushed out on the street," he said. "That’s not Texas."

The Senate — though dominated by Republicans — has been looking to add billions of dollars back into its budget proposal. A Senate panel has identified at least $9 billion in non-tax revenue that could be used to help fatten the budget.

But Rep. Jim Pitts, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, had said his chamber would only be able to go along with about $3.5 billion of that. On Monday, the House committee approved a bill that would add $3 billion to the budget by, among other things, suspending the sales tax holiday. That bill now goes to the full House.

As for the big House budget bill, the Senate Finance Committee picks it up today. A full Senate vote could come next week.

Culled:

  • U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, and a coalition of Austin officials on Monday attacked what they view as Republican plans to divide largely Democratic Travis County in the congressional redistricting process. "I think the desire is to have three-fourths of Austin forced into districts that are represented by Tea Party sympathizers," Doggett said.
  • If you've been thinking the Texas lawmakers looking for budget remedies could use some help from a pro (or, perhaps, just a concerned citizen) like yourself, you're in luck, because the Tribune's new interactive app — inspired by a similar New York Times project, and developed in partnership with the Houston Chronicle — invites you to decide for yourself how to close the state's gaping budget hole. Slash (or not) away.

"We should not be focusing on a technicality. — whether the car bomb happened in El Paso or within walking distance of El Paso." — U.S. Rep. Francisco "Quico" Canseco, R-San Antonio, to the El Paso Times on recently claiming in a newsletter that car bombs were exploding in El Paso

Must-Read:

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