The Texas State Senate News
AUSTIN - Governor George W. Bush presented his budget today, making speech promises like money for education and tax cuts into written priorities. The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Senator Bill Ratliff of Mount Pleasant, heard testimony regarding the state budget after the announcement this morning.
Lt. Governor Rick Perry moved the process forward by referring two bills that are priorities for the governor to the Finance Committee. Businesses would benefit from the legislation, including a corporate franchise tax bill by Senator Troy Fraser of Horseshoe Bay, which helps businesses with less than $200,000 in gross receipts and a bill offering a research and development franchise tax credit or refund.
Perry said he believes the governor has support for his agenda throughout Texas and that the budget reflects Texans' values.
"Children, families, schools, small businesses, taxpayers, they're all big winners in Governor Bush's budget he laid out today," said Perry.
The proposed budget focuses on education, sending nearly $1.6 million into local school districts. Bush allotted $35 million for the master reader teacher program, endorsed by Lt. Governor Perry. The program pays teachers an extra $5,000 annually if they become expert reading instructors.
Tax cuts were another expected item in the budget. Perry supports Bush's decision to provide property tax cuts over other forms of tax cuts because he said it increases the state's share of public school funding while providing tax relief for local tax payers. Members of the Democratic Caucus expressed concerns on Wednesday that Texas' renters will not benefit from the surplus to which they contributed with their sales tax dollars. Some senators expressed they want to "put a pencil to the numbers" and satisfy basic needs before they commit to extensive tax cuts.
The Senate passed Senate Resolution (SR)92 honoring Ricky Williams, the University of Texas football star and Heisman Trophy winner famous for his running on the field and his service in the community. Senators Judith Zaffirini of Laredo and J.E. "Buster" Brown of Lake Jackson showed their support by wearing orange. Though Williams was not there, his family, including his mother Sandy and twin sister Cassie, were in the chamber to receive the resolution.
The Senate reconvenes Monday at 1:30 p.m.
2/01/99, Monday - Finance Committee Public Hearing at 9:00 a.m. in the Capitol Extension, room E1.036
2/01/99, Monday - Special Committee on Electric Utility Restructuring Public Hearing at 2:00 p.m. or 30 minutes upon adjournment in the Senate Chamber
2/03/99, Wednesday - Human Services Public Hearing at 8:30 a.m. in the Senate Chamber