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Ogden: Still No Budget Deal in Texas Senate

Photo by Marjorie Kamys Cotera
State Sen. Steve Ogden R-Bryan during Senate Finance Committee hearing on April 19th, 2011

Senators left a meeting this morning looking no closer to an agreement on the budget — and Finance Chair Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, said the method of financing remains the sticking point.

“If we’re not going to use the Rainy Day fund when it’s raining, we might as well get rid of it," Ogden told reporters after this morning's caucus. "This is what it’s for.”

The budget was originally slated for debate today, but negotiations broke down on Wednesday night. Ogden needs 21 votes in the upper chamber to bring the budget up for debate, but he said he still doesn't have them, largely because of questions over how to finance it.  

“I have votes for the budget if we use the Rainy Day Fund, I have votes for the budget if we don’t use the Rainy Day Fund, I have votes for the budget if we spend more money," Ogden said. "But I don’ t have a bill between the foul lines yet.”

Ogden said without the Rainy Day Fund, lawmakers will have to go back to the drawing board to further cut the already thin state budget. Doing that will assure no Democrats will vote to bring it to the floor, he said — meaning it will be impossible to count to 21.  

"You're down to a mess," he said.

And every hour the budget doesn't hit the floor gives interest groups more time to weigh in, he said, throwing another wrench in the negotiations. 

"The longer it's out there, the people who don’t like it have more time to attack it," he said.

Ogden said he wants the supplemental appropriations bill — House Bill 4 — out of the Finance Committee tomorrow in order to keep the process moving. At this point, he hopes the full budget will come up before next week, but said he isn't confident it will happen.

"I will try to move the budget at the first instance I think I have 21 votes,” he said.

Becca Aaronson develops data interactives and reports for The Texas Tribune. After an internship in fall 2010, she was hired by the Tribune to help cover the 82nd legislative session. She previously interned at the Houston Chronicle. Becca is a native of Austin who graduated from Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., with a degree in cultural theory.