REGULAR SESSION ENDS BUT SPECIAL ON THE WAY
(AUSTIN) — The Legislature will likely spend some time in Austin this summer after a critical measure on state financing died in the Senate late Sunday night. A filibuster killed SB 1811, a bill that included measures for additional revenue as well as a school finance plan, meaning the budget passed by the Legislature on Saturday won't balance. Perry told reporters Sunday that he would call lawmakers back as early as Tuesday to address this issue.
SB 1811 would have used deferrals and tax collection speedups to generate more than $3 billion in revenue for the 2012-2013 biennium. It also laid out a plan on how to implement a funding reduction in public education by $4 billion over the next two years. The plan was to implement an across the board 6 percent cut across all districts in the first year. In the second year, the cuts would come to target revenue.
In 2006, when the Legislature voted to reduce property taxes and create a new business tax, it locked in funding levels for school districts so they would be held harmless in the event the new tax underperformed. It did, meaning the state owed more money to local districts than was taken took in with the business tax. The agreement put forward in SB 1811 would have taken $2 billion out of target revenue in 2013, with a plan to eliminate target revenue within five years.
Lawmakers will be back, and soon, to address this measure again. The budget has already passed, and without the new revenue and school finance plan in SB 1811, the Comptroller cannot certify that the budget balances. The Legislature will have to pass some sort of measure to balance the budget before the Comptroller has to certify it in June, or they could be forced to restart the appropriations process all over again.
Also Monday, the Senate honored three Senate staffers for their dedication to public service. At the end of each session, the Senate confers the Betty King Award, named for the longest serving Secretary of the Senate, to one staffer in central staff and one in a member's office or committee staff. Administration Committee Chair Senator Kevin Eltife of Tyler laid out the resolution honoring this year's winners, and said that there were more nominations for the awards than ever. This was reflected in the first ever tie between member's staffers. Pat Kelly, who works for San Antonio Senator Jeff Wentworth and Reta Cooke, who works for Senator Tommy Williams of the Woodlands, were jointly awarded the honor. For central staff, Senate Committee Coordinator Scott Caffey won the award. Eltife said that the Senate could not operate without the hard work and skill of its staff.
The Senate of the 82nd Legislature, Regular Session stands adjourned sine die. The first called Session of the 82nd Legislature will begin Tuesday, May 31 at 8 a.m.