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The Brief: May 23, 2013

End-of-session tension abated on Wednesday as lawmakers, after days of uncertainty, broke through a budget stalemate.

The chamber of the Texas House

The Big Conversation

End-of-session tension abated on Wednesday as lawmakers, after days of uncertainty, broke through a budget stalemate.

The House and Senate each approved measures central to the two-year budget the Legislature must pass before Monday, the last day of the session.

The Senate passed House Bill 1025, which would put $2 billion in a water fund, if approved by Texas voters, and add $200 million to public schools. The House then approved Senate Joint Resolution 1, which would put the water fund on the ballot in November.

"The results of these two bills together is a good conservative budget, and it’s something we can all be proud of," said state Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, the Senate's lead budget writer.

The votes marked a major breakthrough for the two chambers, which had spent the last few days insisting that the other vote first to see whether their demands had been met. 

Led by Tea Party Republicans who have expressed concerns about the water fund, 16 House members voted against the Senate resolution. In the Senate, three members, all Republicans, voted against the House bill.

Democrats, meanwhile, praised the breakthroughs, which have likely helped avert a special session on budget matters.

"We should all feel very proud of the accomplishments that were made in the process," said state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth.

Culled

•    State Equal Pay Act Survives the Senate (The Texas Tribune): "House Bill 950, by state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, a measure designed to prevent pay discrimination against women, narrowly passed the upper chamber with a vote of 17-14 on Wednesday."

•    Eiland Won't Seek Re-election (The Texas Tribune): "State Rep. Craig Eiland, D-Galveston, will not seek re-election, he announced in a tearful personal privilege speech on the House floor on Wednesday night."

•    New South Texas University Bill Heads to Governor's Desk (The Texas Tribune): "The Senate on Wednesday concurred with the House amendments to Senate Bill 24, creating a regional university and medical school in the Rio Grande Valley. The bill will now head to the governor's desk."

•    House Derails Achievement School District Bill (The Texas Tribune): "Sen. Royce West's proposal for a special statewide school district to manage underperforming campuses will have to find another lifeboat. The Dallas Democrat has removed the bill from the legislation he had attached it to after it died in the House."

•    Drug testing approved for jobless aid, but not welfare applicants (Austin American-Statesman): "Hours after a barrage of Democratic delaying tactics scuttled a drug-testing program for welfare recipients, Texas House Republicans grabbed a consolation prize Wednesday, approving a similar program for some Texans who apply for unemployment benefits."

•    Opponents, supporters speak out on Boy Scouts’ gay ban ahead of Thursday vote (The Dallas Morning News): "The BSA’s national council, 1,460 delegates from across the nation, is scheduled to vote Thursday morning on a new membership policy that would erase the ban on openly gay youth but keep in place the ban on gay adult volunteers and paid staff."

Quote of the Day: "Let me be clear: I don't trust the Republicans. … It is leadership in both parties that has gotten us in this mess." — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz during floor debate on Wednesday over the Senate budget

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