The Texas House and Senate plans for the state budget were pitched Monday. Both offer more money for schools and Medicaid.
The Senate plan, known as SB 1, totals $87 billion in general revenue spending while the House proposal, HB 1, is just under $90 billion. Both provide enough cash to meet projected growth in public and higher education, as well as fully funding Medicaid.
The plans do not spend all the sales tax revenue that's estimate by Comptroller Susan Combs. Spending what's left on the table, for other state agencies, while also enhancing schools could spark some hot debates.
"How we spend the money matters and I'm for whatever proposals, I know I'll be offering some and I know my colleagues have a lot to improve the improve the quality of instruction in the classroom to expand instruction into additional seasons so we don't lose kids during summer vacation when they go backwards, and I think we've got to find ways to reach kids who are tuning out the education system by the time they reach middle school is many cases and we're seeing in the test scores we are just not doing a very good job of overcoming the effect of poverty in low income schools. Those kids are still despite all the interventions we've had in the past couple of decades to try to lift them up those kids are still are way behind and we've got to find a way to close the achievement gap," said Rep. Mark Strama (D) Austin.
The debate Monday in the House chamber wasn't about the budget but about setting rules for the session. State representative David Simpson got into a few intense discussions with fellow republicans. Simpson tried to end the practice of stopping the clock when debates run past the midnight hour and to also post actual start times in the house journal.
"Sometimes we gavel in ... 30 minutes later and it will still show we are very punctual," argued the Longview Republican.
Fellow Republican Debbie Riddle tried to counter by making a biblical reference.
Well, God knows how to be punctual as well, but even god saw the need to stop the sun for Joshua in that particular battle."
Simpson responded with a curt, "We're not we are not god, though."
House members defeated the majority of rule changes pitched by tea party legislators. Several measures could have reduced the power of house speaker Joe Straus. Republicans did eliminate a rule used by Democratic Party lawmakers during the last session to stall legislation based on clerical errors.