House passes budget after initial failure

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Sen. John J. Carona, R-Dallas, speaks to his fellow senators during the special session at the Capitol on Tuesday. The Senate adjourned sine die Tuesday after passing the budget bill, 21-9, with little difficulty. The House initially failed to pass the budget bill, but after brief meetings between Republicans, the bill passed on a second vote, 80-57.

Photo Credit: Allen Otto | Daily Texan Staff

The special session almost went into round two after the Texas House of Representatives first rejected the “must-pass Senate bill” that would balance the state’s next biennium budget.

After Republicans held a caucus, the House reconsidered the legislation and passed the bill with a vote of 80-57.

The Senate voted on the bill earlier in the day and passed it after little discussion, 21-9.

The House initially failed to pass the budget with a vote of 64-79, including 32 republicans who voted against the bill.

Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, who was among the Republicans who initially voted against the bill, said it was a hard vote but decided to vote for the bill after discussing the legislation with other Republicans.

“I’m not usually one to change my vote, but two things pushed me to say no: Eagle Forum and unfunded mandates that would cost small counties,” King said.

King said he misunderstood those elements of the bill and after fellow legislators clarified, he flipped his vote.

Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, said the writing of the bill did not change between the votes, so regardless of what people think of SB 1, the wording should speak for itself.

A filibuster against the budget by Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, forced the legislators into special session at the end of May, and some representatives said poor leadership and time management put the House in this position.

Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, authored c. Together with budget bill SB 2 by Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Brian, the budget will cut public school funding by $4 billion while keeping all money in the state’s $9.4 billion Rainy Day Fund and not raising taxes.

Megan LaVoie, communications director for Duncan, said SB 1 encompassed about 750 bills, many being added following its initial introduction.

“The big components were the school finance plan and the non-tax revenue dollars,” LaVoie said.

She said the bill would determine how much each school district would receive over the next biennium and add $3.7 billion from non-tax revenue that would be used to balance the state’s budget.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst praised the bill earlier in the day after the Senate adjourned for sine die, saying it was a wonderful budget that Texans would be proud of.