Over the vehement objections of Democrats, the Texas Senate today passed a state budget for the next biennium by a vote of 19 to 12. On Tuesday, Sen. Steve Ogden's effort to get a two-thirds vote and send the chamber's substitute for the House budget, known as HB 1, to conference committee failed on the floor. On Wednesday, Ogden and Lt. Gov. Dewhurst bypassed tradition and resorted to a loophole in the rules to allow them to send the bill forward with a simple majority vote, setting the stage for the straight party-line vote late in the afternoon.
“AARP is disappointed with the risky budget proposal passed by the Senate today.
“By relying on a far more shaky financing method and a potential 1.2% across the board cut, rather than a reasonable and limited use of the Economic Stabilization ("Rainy Day") Fund, the budget passed today demonstrates a lack of responsible state budget leadership.
“While the Senate budget is still far preferable, in its impact on senior services, to the dangerous House budget, the Senate’s leadership has weakened the financing for the budget considerably by eliminating the limited and responsible use of the Rainy Day Fund proposed by its own Senate Finance Committee.
“Two-thirds of AARP Texas members say the state should tap into the Rainy Day Fund to help remedy the current budget shortfall, according to a recent survey. AARP members also ranked primary and secondary education and health and human services as the top two budget priorities for the Texas Legislature this session.
“Too much is at stake here for the Senate to rely on guesses about future available revenue, backed up by a potentially devastating across the board cut. In a nutshell, the Senate budget is not fiscally responsible and merely kicks the can down the road for the next Legislature to deal with.
“It's time for the state's leaders to step up to the plate and do the right thing. The Rainy Day Fund was intended for “economic stabilization” -- exactly these kinds of times. It’s raining. It’s pouring. Using a portion of the fund to get through some temporary hard times is the right thing to do.”
"What do you when the economy is not so healthy? Well, the first thing is you do no harm to the economy," Ogden said in his closing statement. The state must do everything possible to get the economy back onto its feet "and the last thing you should do is raise taxes."
"It is a bridget to the future. It does not hurt the economy. In fact, I think it helps it...This budget prioritizes public education. It prioritizes health and human services... We do not cut those services."
"The politically safe vote is to vote no. I think it's a courageous thing to vote for this budget. It's not the critic who counts... For the 19 of you out here who have the courage to vote for this bill, I will fight for it.... and every one of you will be in the arena with me."
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