Dream Act Opponents Face More Obstacles
Also, the House-Senate brinksmanship on tax relief shows no sign of resolution.
As the week progressed, it seemed the hill to be scaled by opponents of the so-called Texas Dream Act seemed only to get steeper.
The Legislature's higher education chairmen talked with the Tribune's Evan Smith on Thursday morning. One — House Higher Education Chairman John Zerwas — flat out said he's a no vote on repealing in-state tuition for undocumented students.
His Senate counterpart, Kel Seliger, was more nuanced but came across as skeptical of the effort to undo the Dream Act, which became law nearly 14 years ago.
Noting that the leaders in the business community are opposed to effort, he added, “What does it accomplish if we take away in-state tuition? These kids aren’t taking places up in schools that other people need.”
Is Seliger a no vote, though?
We know that SB 1819, the bill that would undo the Dream Act, was not placed on the intent calendar Thursday. Senate rules specify that legislation must sit on the intent calendar for two days before it can be considered on the floor.
Today's action leaves SB 1819 one day short of being eligible for being called to the floor.
All this would seem to suggest that another Senator is joining Kevin Eltife, a confirmed no vote on SB 1819, in opposing the legislation. Two Republicans would be enough to deny the bill the three-fifths support needed to consider it on the floor.
The other big conflict between the House and Senate on tax relief showed no signs of abating this week.
Much of this was fueled by statements by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who was showing no give in his position that the Legislature should be cutting property and business taxes.
Earlier this week, Patrick told reporters that “Property tax relief is No. 1 for me.” He followed up a day later with a written statement that read in part, “Let there be no misunderstanding, I agree with Governor Abbott that I too will not support any budget that does not have franchise tax relief. I also will not support any budget that does not have property tax relief, as well.”
For its part, the House isn't showing any signs of giving in.
The House's tax-writing committee on Thursday afternoon passed its tax cut package, which relies on a state sales tax rate reduction as well as cuts in the business franchise tax.
The next step will be for that legislation to be scheduled for floor debate in the House.
The fact that this disagreement could make passing the budget problematic enhances the drama around this particular game of brinksmanship. One possible result is the failure to pass a budget, which would bring on a special session.
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