With the 85th Texas Legislative Session winding down, there are lots of bills dead or dying.
Most of the action during the last 2 weeks will revolve around the state budget.
The Senate and the House have named 5 of their members as ‘conferees’ to work out differences.
They started about $ 2 billion apart.
A big part of the difference is whether to use the state’s so-called “Rainy Day” fund (the current balance is about $ 11 B) to fund state government in 2018 – 2019. The House says yes, the Senate says no.
Keep in mind – about 1/3 of the budget goes to Medicaid, the health insurer of last resort. And another 1/4 of the budget funds public education.
On the subject of health care costs, there is some good news. The Legislature has passed a bill to allow telemedicine, which is direct-to- consumer healthcare starting on June 1. Texas was one of only 2 states that didn’t allow it. That bill is on its way to Gov. Abbott.
And, there are several digital education bills supported by the Texas technology industry to modernize how we train our kids. They would allow our students access to the technology they use outside the classroom. These bills are still pending but championed by Sen. Larry Taylor and supported by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick so the outlook is good.
If the budget isn’t settled by May 29, Governor Greg Abbott will have to keep them in special session. Those sessions run for 30 days at a time and the Governor solely controls that agenda.
There’s also speculation that the Governor could call them back if they don’t settle on a long-term solution to fund public schools; the current system is commonly referred to as “Robin Hood” and seems to work for just about nobody.
It’s been an interesting and some would say dramatic session, particularly in the Texas House. As an example, University of Texas Exes are rallying to stop a bill that would take several hundred acres of land donated by a prominent alumnus, Col. George Brackenridge, in the 1900’s and give it to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. UT calls it a land grab that could put a chill on future donations. It would be interesting to see how Gov. Abbott, a Longhorn, would view that bill if it reaches his desk.
So, if you’re looking for free entertainment these next 2 weeks, stop by the Texas State Capitol. It will not be dull.
Catch us also on Texas Business Radio: https://texasbusinessradio.com/