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Politics

Texas House Names Budget Conferees

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Photo Courtesy The Texas Tribune
The Texas House selected budget conferees and gave instructions for the coming debate with the Senate.

The Senate's version of the state budget made it to the House floor today - and was kicked to a House/Senate conference committee. The Senate spends about $12 billion more than the House - with much of the difference focused on Health and Human Services and public education.

Before naming the five House members who will fight for that chamber's version of the budget (Republican Reps. Jim Pitts (R-Waxahatchie), John Zerwas (R-Simonton), Myra Crownover (R-Lake Dallas), John Otto (R-Dayton) and Democrat Sylvester Turner of Houston), the House spend some time "instructing" the conferees on what do to during negotiations.

The instructions are non-binding - but show the will of the House as the budget bill is reconciled. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • The House's version of the budget moved $61 million in family planning services funding to other health-related areas. Much of that money came out state funds to Planned Parenthood - which many Republicans have issues with because the agency provides abortions. Today the House instructed its conferees to NOT add any money back into family planning.
  • Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) attacked the state's three major incentive funds with his instruction. He wants conferees to use the Senate's budget on the Texas Enterprise Fund, Emerging Technology Fund and Film Incentive Fund. The Senate zero's out the Emerging Tech and Enterprise Funds. And cuts the film incentive by two-thirds.
  • Neither the House nor the Senate spends Rainy Day funds in the next budget. But the still instructed conferees to no spend any money from the Fund.
  • Democrats offered a few instructions that would have increased education and Health and Human Services funding. All were voted down.

The House decision to go to conference on the budget now heads back to the Senate - so that chamber can name its own five conferees.