With a deal in the works tonight on the state's two-year budget — the biggest priority of the legislative session — the House and Senate are debating a crucial school finance measure and another critical bill that raises enough money to pay for the budget.

The Senate is talking education, and Morgan Smith will be liveblogging the action below. They're adding a school finance measure — SB 22 — to a fiscal bill, turning that into a multi-part school finance bill that can then be sent to the House for approval. They're using SB 1581, which was shot down in the House Thursday because it carried a provision allowing concealed handguns on college campuses.

The House, meanwhile, will be taking up SB 1811, and Brandi Grissom will be keeping you updated on that. The bill is intended to generate about $2.5 billion in the 2012-2013 biennium through savings and non-tax revenues. It's necessary to bridge the gap between the two chambers over the budget bill. If SB 1811 does not pass, the budget numbers don't add up.

The budget talks are paused while legislators work on these bills in the House and Senate, and everything appears, for the moment, to be on track. Budget writers will return later to try to close differences on higher education spending.

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Liveblog

by Brandi Grissom
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst just tweeted about the budget deal: "House and Senate reached an agreement to balance the budget, protect taxpayers and make a historic $15-billion cut in spending"
by Morgan Smith
Now that Wentworth has helped his colleagues avoid deadlock on SB 1581 by pulling down his campus carry measure, Shapiro is laying out her school finance bill, SB 22, as an amendment. "We all know what this is about to become," she says.
by Brandi Grissom
There's a bit of a scrum up here near the dais in the House. It appears House members are talking to Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, about the amendments they've proposed to SB1811. We're hearing that a lot of them are going to be pulled down so that the bill can pass more easily. That could also make for a shorter night.
by Brandi Grissom
Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus just released a statement on the budget agreement. Here it is:

Today, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and Texas House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) announced a budget agreement from the Senate and House conferees of $80.6 billion in General Revenue on House Bill 1:

"I'm pleased that the House and Senate have come to an agreement that will help balance the budget and protect Texas taxpayers while making a historic $15-billion cut in government spending," said Lt. Governor Dewhurst. "We are hard at work passing a number of related bills, including school finance reform, which also must pass in order to balance the budget."

“I want to thank the House and Senate budget writers for their tireless work in bringing forward a budget that is disciplined, fiscally conservative and that lives within our means,” said Speaker Straus. "The agreement that we reached with the Senate today funds nursing homes, our public schools and universities, and provides financial aid for college students while keeping substantial revenue in reserves and avoiding any new taxes.”
by Ross Ramsey
SB 22, the school finance bill Shapiro is trying to add to the fiscal matters bill, has been sitting on the shelf since April 20, when she got it out of the Senate Finance Committee. She hasn't been able to get two-thirds of the senators to sign off on it. As an amendment, however, all it needs is a simple majority.
by Morgan Smith
The prospect of proration — which would happen if lawmakers don't pass a school finance plan — rearing its head during debate between Shapiro and Van de Putte. That would result in schools being fully funded under current formulas for the first year of the biennium, then making up the difference in local revenue as state money dwindles in the second. But there's also the option of the lawmakers voting to use the Rainy Day Fund at that point. Van de Putte asking Shapiro to explain the details of that scenario.
by Brandi Grissom
Pitts is laying out SB1811, explaining what the bill does. Basically, it changes laws to conform with the budget bill and raises enough revenue to meet the budget they passed.
As it is now, it suspends the FY2012 sales tax holiday, but Pitts says he'll take out that provision. Good news for back-to-school shoppers.
by Brandi Grissom
Here we got with amendments. They approved the one to keep the sales tax holiday.
by Morgan Smith
In the House, public ed chairman Rob Eissler has a "safety net" amendment to SB 1811 that would redefine proration. If a school finance plan doesn't get passed, it would require the commissioner to enact the same percentage reduction to districts across the board — under the recently reached budget agreement, which slashes $4 billion from public education, that would be 6 percent. And would remove the requirement in current law that the Legislature reimburse districts for filling in the gap with their local revenue.
by Brandi Grissom
The House added an amendment that requires more disclosure from and legislative oversight of the governor's Emerging Technology Fund. Advisory board members would have to file financial disclosures and get criminal background checks.
by Morgan Smith
As she explains why she won't vote for the amendment, Wendy Davis bringing up the origins of the target revenue system. It hinges on a promise the Legislature in 2006 when it reduced the property tax rate, if under new cost-based formulas they received less per student than before the state would fill in the gap with money from the newly minted margins tax. The margins tax hasn't raised the expected revenue — and that promise has resulted in a wildly inequitable funding system. Shapiro was a key architect, but her new plan makes moves to eliminate target revenue by 2017. That's not enough for Davis.
by Morgan Smith
Education Committee Vice Chair Dan Patrick expressing his support for Shapiro's plan, and asking about the provision that would implement an pre-K certification system. In committee testimony, some pre-K advocates pushed back hard against the measure, saying that it created an unnecessary cost when dollars are already tight.
by Brandi Grissom
Texas Democratic Party chairman Boyd Richie released a statement with his thoughts about the House-Senate budget agreement. Here it is:

“The fact is, thousands of teachers will still be laid off, schools will still close and jobs will still be lost. Republicans did not save the day - they were playing political games with this budget process from the beginning.

“Democrats tried to make this budget better at every stage of the process and were run over at every attempt. Democrats tried to close corporate and oil and gas tax loopholes and tried to use the Rainy Day Fund. Republicans chose to refuse those efforts and instead endanger our economy, our schools and our future.

“This budget is still far worse than it needs to be because this Republican-dominated legislature made cruel choices based on completely misplaced priorities.

“Democrats rolled up their sleeves and tried to improve this budget, but make no mistake – this is a Republican state budget and we will make them defend every budget vote they took this session.”
by Morgan Smith
Bob Deuell now reading off the funding inequities target revenue brings in each of the senators' districts to argue for his amendment that has a stricter phase out than what's currently in Shapiro's plan. "Senator Williams, Senate District 4, the lowest district is 4,615 and the highest district is 7,064..." and so on.
by Brandi Grissom
House approved an amendment that drops the state reimbursement rate for jurors from $40 per day down to $34 per day. Counties can pay jurors more, but the state will only reimburse up to $34 per day.
by Morgan Smith
Deuell says he's pulling his amendment because he's not sure he has the votes. And as a favor to Ogden —  likely because if it did pass would make the finance plan a harder sell in the House. "You've done a beautiful job of pointing out everything that's broken about school funding in Texas," Davis tells him.
by Brandi Grissom
Now they're fighting about how much to pay jurors. State Rep. Craig Eiland, D-Galveston, says $34 won't even pay for parking in some counties.
by Morgan Smith
Here's a kicker from Deuell: "We do have the rainy day fund. For the life of me I don't understand why we won't use that."
by Morgan Smith
"We don't want to get out of this session without ending target revenue," Duncan says.

He has an amendment expressing a commitment to ending target revenue by 2017 and using that money to increase the basic allotment (a cost estimate the state uses, along with average daily attendance, in its funding formulas to calculate how much it owes each district). There's a concern that future legislatures could push that 2017 deadline back — this amendment is aimed at easing that.
by Brandi Grissom
Rep. Larry Phillips says he wants to make sure House members keep their amendments limited to only ones that are needed to make the budget balance.
If they're going to do more than that, he says, he has a bunch of measures he wants to add.
Apparently there's a list of amendments that are needed to make the budget work.
Pitts says he's "not advised" how many amendments are left.
by Brandi Grissom
Rep. Pete Gallego asks whether the chairman intends to cut off debate on the amendments that are not acceptable to Rep. Pitts. Rep. Jim Keffer, at the dais says they won't cut off debate and legislators will be able to offer their amendments.
by Brandi Grissom
After two legislators weren't around on the floor when their amendments were called, Rep. Keffer asks them to please pay attention.
by Morgan Smith
Under Shapiro's plan, districts would see an average of 5 to 6 percent reductions but no more than 9 percent. All districts get slashed by 1.5 percent — that accounts for about $1 billion of the $4 billion in cuts. Reductions to property wealthy districts — those on target revenue — make up for the last $3 billion.
by Morgan Smith
By a vote of 17 to 13, the Senate now officially has a school finance plan: Shapiro's amendment passes.
by Brandi Grissom
Rep. Yvonne Davis has an amendment to study sales tax exemptions.
"We need to look at all resources available to the states," she says. "This is an example of what we need to do."
by Brandi Grissom
Pitts says he opposes Davis' amendment to study the sales tax study amendment.
"This amendment would allow us to become better informed," she said. "This amendment is just a common-sense amendment."
The amendment fails: 98-47.
by Brandi Grissom
Rep. Yvonne Davis as she prepares to present her next amendment: "I'm so glad to have this opportunity to bring good government to you, because I know a lot of you have missed it for a while."
by Brandi Grissom
Pitts says he's going to be consistent and oppose every amendment not previously agreed to.
by Morgan Smith
School finance plan successfully attached, Senate tentatively approves SB 1581 with a vote of 19 to 11. Right now Ogden's gathering the 4/5ths vote to suspend the rules to pass it on third reading right away.
by Brandi Grissom
After a soliloquy about why the budget stinks, another Rep. Yvonne Davis, D-Dallas, goes down.
by Morgan Smith
Just when we thought we were heading home... Wentworth pops back up with his campus carry bill.
by Morgan Smith
But Wentworth's colleagues aren't having it. 19 to 11, they decline to suspend the rules to consider it on the floor.
by Brandi Grissom
To cheers in the House, Rep. Erwin Cain's amendment that is supposed to make the budget readable passes.
by Morgan Smith
Eissler's proration amendment (see earlier entry below) coming up in the House. It would take effect only if a school finance plan fails to pass. But Eissler says it provides an option for lawmakers who want more time to work out the details before signing off on a formula rewrite — something they could study during the interim and handle next session. Groups like the Equity Center argue that an across the board cut of 6 percent will devastate poorer districts and hardly dent the budgets of the wealthier ones.
by Morgan Smith
Zaffirini and Ogden getting testy with each other in debate over a bill that would require a degree in social work for CPS workers.
by Morgan Smith
Ogden loses this battle — HB 753 passes to third reading.
by Brandi Grissom
Rep. Myra Crownover says she has an "elegant little amendment" that will save lives and money. It's her statewide smoking ban. 55 other bills passed because she pulled her bill down the other day, she says.
"We know that it will save $30 million," she said.
by Brandi Grissom
"This is not anti-smoking," Crownover says. "Some of my very most precious people in my life smoke."
The ban not only protects historical buildings like the Capitol and helps prevent fires, Crownover says, "It protects our very most precious private property, and that's our lungs and our heart and our brains."
Rep. Gary Elkins, R-Houston, says the smoking ban is big government. He proposes an amendment to exempt some private entities from the ban.
"This is another government edict when we don't need the edict," he said.
by Brandi Grissom
Elkins says that now the state doesn't want you to eat. The smoking ban, he says, is just one more government encroachment and he likens the smoking ban to attempts to ban sugary foods.
"If you happen to be eating a candy bar, and I happen to be under your mouth and catch some crumbs then that's bad for me?" said Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, saying that smoking is different because second-hand smoke affects other people.
Elkins says if cigarette smoking is so bad why don't we ban it like drugs. His amendment exempting some private places was successfully added to the ban.
by Brandi Grissom
Rep. Jose Aliseda, R-Beeville, has an amendment that would exempt pool halls that restrict entrance to those over 21.
House members are yelling "Vote!" "Vote!". Speaker Straus calls for order.
Crownover says the ban in her bill would apply only to public places.
by Brandi Grissom
Aliseda compares the smoking ban to "Obamacare," says the government can use health care to justify anything.
by Brandi Grissom
Aliseda's pool hall exemption to the smoking ban passes 79-58.
by Brandi Grissom
Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, offers an amendment that would expand the smoking ban to include perfume and cologne in the ban. Laughter abounds. But he's seriously offering it.
by Brandi Grissom
Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham is upset. "This is out of bounds," she says. "Do you know how many people die of cancer every year?"
"For a man who is always talking about the size of the budget ... and the cost drivers there have to do with our health and our health habits and personal responsibility," she says.
"I ask you to show some decor," Kolkhorst says.
Simpson responds: "I'm going to withdraw this amendment," he says.
He has a list of all the carcinogens associated with cologne and perfume. At a nursing home, he says, he was at recently cologne and perfume was prohibited.
"If it is such a problem," he says, "why do we associate asbestos with lawsuits and not second-hand smoke?"
Amendment is withdrawn.
by Brandi Grissom
Crownover: "Why in the world wouldn't we do something that would save thousands of Texans' lives and millions of dollars?"
Her husband died of Leukemia and one of the major causes of Leukemia is benzene, a carcinogen in second-hand smoke.
Rep. Dwayne Bohac says his wife's first husband never smoked and died at age 35 from lung cancer.
"I think you have a good bill," he said.
by Brandi Grissom
Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Minneola, speaks against the ban, says the government has no business banning a legal activity on private property. "Liberty and conformity are often at odds," he says. "The free market is taking care of this problem."
He says vote for liberty and private property and vote against the ban.
by Brandi Grissom
Smoking ban passes: 73-66
by Brandi Grissom
Applause from the House for state Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, who is graduating from law school tomorrow.
by Brandi Grissom
Legislators applaud when state Rep. Mark Strama withdraws an amendment.
by Brandi Grissom
Rep. Pete Gallego says the backbone of the economy of the state is small business. The current system, he says, taxes businesses whether they make money or not.
His amendment to change that 86-62 gets added onto the bill. It would exempt businesses from the margins tax if they aren't profitable.
A very rare adoption of a Democrat amendment.
by Brandi Grissom
State Rep. Senfronia, D-Houston, just presented the wrong amendment. It's late.
by Brandi Grissom
Pitts says the Gallego margins tax amendment will cost the budget $2 billion.
by Brandi Grissom
Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston (Mrs. Thompson), has another successful amendment to create more exemptions from the margins tax.
Although Rep. Pitts says it will cost the budget, the House puts it on with a vote of 139-2.
by Brandi Grissom
Rep. Joe Deshotel, D-Beaumont, at the back mic asks at 12:03 a.m. if anyone's feeling the rapture yet.
by Brandi Grissom
Speaker Straus: "We are on page 713." Yes, 713.
by Brandi Grissom
Rep. George Lavender's amendment to exempt beekeepers from the margins tax gets added on with a vote of 109-32 and a bunch of applause and whistles.
"Beekeepers are the backbone of the ag industry," Lavender said, to great laughter in the chamber. "You don’t have anything if you don’t have bees."
Apparently the House agreed.
by Brandi Grissom
Rep. Dwayne Bohac announces the House will stand at ease to discuss a point of order on an amendment relating to tax breaks for satellite providers.
House members (and maybe some press corps folks) register their objections to the hold-up with boos.
by Brandi Grissom
The point of order is sustained. The satellite amendment by Rep. Craig Eiland goes down.
State Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, asks if he would be recognized to call the previous question (immediate up or down vote on the whole bill, stopping amendments). More applause.
Rep. Dwayne Bohac says not right now. Maybe later.
by Brandi Grissom
Rep. Pitts seems to be accepting amendments to hurry up the process. Now, he's huddling with folks at the front of the House. Is a final vote on SB1811 approaching?
by Brandi Grissom
They're back on the jury pay issue from earlier. The amendment by state Rep. Craig Eiland, D-Galveston, makes the cut in jury pay reimbursements temporary. It will go back up from $34 per day to $40 per day in two years.
by Brandi Grissom
Rep. Pete Gallego asks if it would be OK to have a motion to simply accept all the remaining amendments and call it a night. A few folks holler "Yes!" One shouts "No!"
by Brandi Grissom
The education-related amends by Hochberg, Eissler, Guillen, Huberty, Gallego, Villarreal, Miller and Aycock have all been withdrawn, Straus announces.
More applause.
by Brandi Grissom
Straus: That's all the amendments
Members yell "Yay!"
Here comes the vote.
by Brandi Grissom
SB1811 passes 96-49.

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