Both Sides Compromise To Pass State Budget Bill
After several late-nights of heated discussions, a joint committee of senators and representatives unanimously approved a $100 billion state budget.
For the last week Republicans and Democrats have gone back and forth arguing about what should be left in the state’s budget and what should be left out.
The biggest factor was how much Republicans would be willing to give up to restore funding for public education.
Even with an agreement in place, tensions between Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, and Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, flared over increasing the amount of funding for public education.
Republicans intend to use a separate House bill to bring the total amount for public education to $3.9 billion, provided that Democrats approve the remaining tax cut bills left pending in the House.
A part of the bill that did not survive was an attachment that would have given Texas a solution for solving the Medicaid expansion problem.
"I think if it came out today, the House wouldn’t agree to it," Williams said. "The purpose of that rider was to make sure the legislative budget board, that they would be involved in any changes to Medicaid."
Williams said at this stage in the game Texas does not have a way to address Medicaid expansion.
The budget bill also provides $400 million to help fix roads, but not to build new ones.
"You know my goal is for us to have more money to build roads and I would get as much of it out as possible and that is something I will look at with our House colleagues as we consider House Bill 1025," Williams said.
Williams is talking about a supplemental spending bill that will provide $500 million more for road repairs in the oil production areas of the state and $2 billion for water-related projects taken from the state's Rainy Day Fund.