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The Brief: April 25, 2011

Though the House has already thrown the first punch, the Senate will enter the ring this week to fight for billions of dollars in state funding.

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The Big Conversation:

Though the House has already thrown the first punch, the Senate will enter the ring this week to fight for billions of dollars in state funding.

The budget fight — which this session has pitted a more moderate, though still Republican-controlled, Senate against a conservative House — will hit new dramatic heights this week, with the full Senate set to vote on a state budget for the next two years. The House passed its austere, service-slashing version of the bill at the beginning of the month.

The Senate version would add $12 billion in state funding to the House's proposal and include a $3 billion withdrawal from the Rainy Day Fund, the state's emergency savings.

A battle has been brewing since the beginning of the session, and lawmakers are bracing for the fight.

"I am not throwing rocks at the Senate," state Rep. Warren Chisum, a member of the House's budget-writing committee, tells the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. "They’ve got to do whatever they think is best, but right now we are far apart on this budget, and that would be a big issue."

In committee, the Senate version of the bill attracted only one Republican no vote: that of Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston, a conservative who spoke out against tapping the Rainy Day Fund in the face of possible future budget woes.

Expect the return of other lightning-rod issues, too, like family planning services, to which the Senate is looking to restore funding after the House rerouted much of it to other services.


  • As the Tribune's Kate Galbraith reports, Midland is running out of water, with its three reservoirs drying up, and the arrival of restrictions has amounted to a culture change in a town where business (i.e., oil) is otherwise booming.
  • For other parched areas of the state, including Possum Kingdom Lake, where massive wildfires have devoured more than 100 homes after West Texas fires began migrating eastward, rain came Sunday. And for Gov. Rick Perry, that was literally a prayer answered. The New York Times also has a look at some Possum Kingdom evacuees who've harnessed social media — and their wealth — to launch an influential blog.
  • The recent firing of controversial University of Texas System adviser Rick O'Donnell may have put Gov. Rick Perry, who has been tied to controversial higher education reform, on defense, but as the San Antonio Express-News reports, it's UT that may suffer in the long run.

"Most of us learned, who’ve been around here, [that] you make your point and then you sit down. You don’t continue until you become annoying. And he’s become annoying to a lot of members." — Rep. Joe Deshotel, D-Port Arthur, on Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, who has used parliamentary procedures to derail three fast-tracked bills, to the ire of many fellow lawmakers


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