Tribpedia: Budget

The Texas Constitution requires the Legislature to balance its budget every year without borrowing against future receipts. That bars the government from deficit spending and forces lawmakers, who meet for 20 weeks every two years, to constantly balance demands for programs and services against voters' desire to limit taxes, fees and other costs of government.

The Legislative Budget Board — a ...

Senate Approves Budget Bill on Party-Line Vote

Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, ponders Democratic speeches before the vote on the Senate budget bill May 4, 2011.
Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, ponders Democratic speeches before the vote on the Senate budget bill May 4, 2011.

The Texas Senate voted 19-12 along party lines Wednesday to pass its own version of HB 1, the House’s budget for the next biennium. Not only did the Democrats lose their power to stop the bill under the traditional two-thirds rule, but they may have lost their chance for a Democrat to join the conference committee where five senators and five representatives will develop a compromise bill.

Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, chairman of Senate Finance Committee, looks for support on the Senate floor during the introduction of the Luna Scholars in the background on May 4, 2011.
Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, chairman of Senate Finance Committee, looks for support on the Senate floor during the introduction of the Luna Scholars in the background on May 4, 2011.

Liveblog: Senate Passes Budget, 19-12

Over the vehement objections of Democrats, the Texas Senate today passed a state budget for the next biennium by a straight party-line vote of 19 to 12.

Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, listens to debate after bringing budget bill CSHB1 to the floor on May 3, 2011.
Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, listens to debate after bringing budget bill CSHB1 to the floor on May 3, 2011.

Liveblog: Senate Debates Budget Bill

The Texas Tribune is liveblogging the Senate's debate over its substitute for House Bill 1, the proposed budget for the next biennium. The Senate will attempt to pass a bill that cuts state and federal spending by about $11 billion, or 5.9 percent. While lawmakers generally agree that spending level is acceptable, there is no consensus when it comes to the proposed methods of financing the bill, including a possible withdrawal from the Rainy Day Fund. Follow our liveblog for the latest developments. 

In Hunt for Revenue, It's Big Tobacco vs. Little

It’s big tobacco vs. little tobacco in the effort to smoke out new revenue for the Texas budget. Large tobacco companies, which fork over half a billion dollars to the state every year as part of a 1998 lawsuit settlement, want small cigarette manufacturers to pay their share. They’re backing a measure that would tax the small manufacturers to raise tens of millions of dollars per biennium.

Senate Finance Committee chairman Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, looks for votes on CSSB1582  a spending bill on April 28, 2011.
Senate Finance Committee chairman Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, looks for votes on CSSB1582 a spending bill on April 28, 2011.

Senators Still Searching for Budget Support

Sen. Steve Ogden is still looking for 20 fellow senators willing to start the debate on the state budget. It takes 21 to bring it up for consideration, and efforts to get that number together have fallen short for more than a week. Now, with less than a month left in the legislative session and the debate on redistricting on hold until after the budget has come to a vote, the pressure is on.

Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, attempts to get votes to suspend the rules on CSSB1580 a Senate spending bill on April 28, 2011.
Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, attempts to get votes to suspend the rules on CSSB1580 a Senate spending bill on April 28, 2011.

Why Texas House Won't Agree to Senate Budget

It might not matter, in the end, whether the Senate wants to use some of the Rainy Day Fund to balance the budget. The House isn’t likely to go along unless the proposition is delivered on a tea cart pushed by Gov. Rick Perry and third-party conservative groups who have been hounding lawmakers to hold the line.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Sen. Carlos Uresti, Sen. Robert Duncan and Sen. Dan Patrick review amendments to Senate Bill 16, the abortion sonogram bill.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Sen. Carlos Uresti, Sen. Robert Duncan and Sen. Dan Patrick review amendments to Senate Bill 16, the abortion sonogram bill.

Texas Senate Debates "Non-Tax Revenue"

The Texas Senate, digging publicly for money while it battles quietly over a proposed budget, approved a "non-tax revenue" bill that would make $4.3 billion available for spending over the next two years.

Sen. Steve Ogden R-Bryan during Senate Finance Committee hearing on April 19th, 2011
Sen. Steve Ogden R-Bryan during Senate Finance Committee hearing on April 19th, 2011

Senate Budget Debate Stalls Over Vote Count

Waiting for the Senate budget debate? Get comfortable. Plans to bring the Senate’s substitute for the House’s budget up for a vote on the floor on Thursday have for now been pushed back to Friday or later, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said. In order to hear the bill at all, Senate Finance Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, needs to have 21 votes, or two-thirds of the Senate. As of Wednesday evening, the numbers weren't on his side.

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst (c) goes over legislation with colleagues on the Senate floor April 18, 2011
Lt. Governor David Dewhurst (c) goes over legislation with colleagues on the Senate floor April 18, 2011

Dewhurst Makes Budget Pitch to Senators

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, trying to build enough support to bring a proposed state budget up for consideration this week, appealed in writing to state senators, supporting the plan and a provision that would allow the state to spend $3 billion from the Rainy Day Fund to make it balance.

Gov. Rick Perry (c) visits the Texas House and talks to Rep. Gary Elkins (l), R-Houston and Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, on April 26, 2011.
Gov. Rick Perry (c) visits the Texas House and talks to Rep. Gary Elkins (l), R-Houston and Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, on April 26, 2011.

Perry: "No Faith" In LBB; Leave Rainy Day Fund Alone

Gov. Rick Perry says he is unswayed by estimates that the state's Rainy Day Fund may end up being more flush than previously anticipated and blasted the Legislature's budget office as an unreliable source of numbers.

Texas For Conservative Budget Commercial
Texas For Conservative Budget Commercial

Video: Conservative Coalition Expands Ad Campaign

One day after the Senate passed its version of the budget for the next biennium, the Texas Public Policy Foundation expanded its media campaign for a "conservative budget." They produced a series of new ads now running on statewide television. The timing appears to be strategic, as the Senate and House prepare to reconcile their spending plans in conference committee. 

House Support For Senate Budget Unlikely

The Senate Finance Committee passed a budget bill this week that proposes spending about $12 billion more than the House in the next biennium. Senators are promising to hold the line on cuts to education and health services funding, even if that means tapping the Rainy Day Fund for an additional $3 billion. At first glance, House Appropriations Chair Jim Pitts says there's no way his chamber can meet the Senate halfway. 

A lemon is left on the desk by a protester as the Senate Finance Committee voted to use the rainy day fund to balance the state budget on April 21, 2011.
A lemon is left on the desk by a protester as the Senate Finance Committee voted to use the rainy day fund to balance the state budget on April 21, 2011.

Senate Panel Approves $176.5 Billion Budget

A $176.5 billion budget for the 2012-13 biennium — 5.9 percent smaller than the current budget but almost $12 billion larger than the version passed earlier by the House — won approval from the Senate Finance Committee Thursday morning and will come to a full Senate vote after the Easter break. And, unlike the House version, the Senate would use up to $3.1 billion from the Rainy Day Fund.

The Weekly TribCast: Episode 76

In this week's jam-packed episode, Evan, Ross, Reeve and Ben discuss higher education reformers, data security at the Comptroller's office, redistricting, the budget, and birthdays.

Sen. Steve Ogden R-Bryan during Senate Finance Committee hearing on April 19th, 2011
Sen. Steve Ogden R-Bryan during Senate Finance Committee hearing on April 19th, 2011

Ogden Proposes Taking Another $3B From Rainy Day Fund

Senate Finance Chair Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, has dropped the news many have been waiting to hear: He wants to attach a contingency provision to the 2012-13 budget that would withdraw $3 billion from the Rainy Day Fund, provided other revenue can’t be found and the comptroller needs a last resort. 

Senate Finance Committee Chair Sen. Steve Ogden and Sen. John Whitmire listen during committee meeting on April 19th, 2011
Senate Finance Committee Chair Sen. Steve Ogden and Sen. John Whitmire listen during committee meeting on April 19th, 2011

Senators Look for Money Without Saying "Taxes"

State senators have unveiled a list of almost $5 billion in cash-flow tricks, property sales and fees that could be used to ease cuts in the state budget, but it's not enough to completely close the gap between what they have available and what they hope to spend.

Interactive: Close the Texas Budget Shortfall

Texas lawmakers have six weeks left in the regular session, and their struggle with the state's tight 2012-13 budget is expected to take up much of that time and could even extend into a special session this summer. It's a hard job, and perhaps the best way to show you that is to let you decide for yourself how the $27 billion shortfall should be closed. Use our interactive budget shortfall app to see what you're willing to give up to close the gap.

Carol Strayhorn announces for governor, June, 2005.
Carol Strayhorn announces for governor, June, 2005.

A Texas-Sized Budget Problem Deferred — to Now

The 2006 tax swap — lowering local school property taxes and creating a new state business tax to make up the difference — is at the center of the state’s current budget troubles. It was never an even swap, and the architects are still pointing fingers over what and whom to blame for the “structural deficit” in state finances.

Federal USDA workers inspect Mexican cattle for fever ticks before admitting them into the country. If a single tick is found, the entire herd must be quarantined and sent back to the rancher.
Federal USDA workers inspect Mexican cattle for fever ticks before admitting them into the country. If a single tick is found, the entire herd must be quarantined and sent back to the rancher.

Slideshow: Fever Tick Inspection in Laredo

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of Apr. 18, 2011

Hamilton on Victoria's efforts to divorce the University of Houston, Ramshaw on a disagreement between right-to-life groups over laws governing when life ends, E. Smith's TribLive interview with Sen. Kel Seliger and Rep. Burt Solomons on redistricting, Aguilar's interview with the mayor of Juárez, Tan on the continuing hunt for money to buy down budget cuts, Grissom on a psychologist who found more than a dozen inmates mentally competent to face the death penalty, Stiles and yours truly on the House redistricting maps and Galbraith on cutting or killing a tax break for high-cost natural gas producers: The best of our best content from April 11 to 15, 2011.

More than half of the patients at Cedar View Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center rely on Medicaid.
More than half of the patients at Cedar View Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center rely on Medicaid.

At Nursing Homes, Fears of a Budget "Armageddon"

The Texas Legislature is faced with a budget challenge that pits the Republican majority’s desire to cut government spending against a vulnerable target: nursing homes. Late Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee defied the House’s more conservative spending blueprint by restoring funding to the same level as the current biennium. It is hopeful news for the industry, which has been bracing for the worst. But the full Senate and the House still must approve the committee’s decision.