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Straus Names 3 to Budget Board

House Speaker Joe Straus on Tuesday named three lawmakers to spots on the Legislative Budget Board. They replace a trio of budget writers who will not be returning to the Legislature next session.

House Speaker Joe Straus answers an audience question at TribLive on Feb. 6, 2013.

House Speaker Joe Straus on Tuesday named three lawmakers to spots on the Legislative Budget Board. They replace a trio of budget writers who will not be returning to the Legislature next session.

The new members are Drew Darby, R-San Angelo; John Otto, R-Dayton; and John Zerwas, R-Simonton.

The LBB consists of 10 members — five each from the Senate and the House, with seats reserved for the chambers' presiding officers as well as the chairs of each chamber's budget and finance committees. The remaining seats are appointed by the speaker and lieutenant governor.

This legislative interim has seen an unusual amount of turnover among the state's budget writers. Come January, the state will have a new governor, lieutenant governor and Senate Finance chairman. On the House side, the chairmen of Appropriations and Ways and Means — Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, and Harvey Hilderbran, R-Kerrville — are not returning. A third LBB member appointed by Straus — Dan Branch, R-Dallas — is also not returning.

The LBB plays a leading role in developing the budget ahead of every legislative session, and Straus' appointments stress continuity from the departing members to the newly arriving ones. All three men serve as chairmen of Appropriations subcommittees, so they already have substantial budget writing responsibilities.

“They have demonstrated a deep understanding of the budget process and a proven commitment to fiscal discipline. I have every confidence that they will continue working to make state government efficient, effective and accountable to taxpayers,” Straus said in a statement.

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