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Breaking News! State Budget Alert!

To get the vote today, they had to move the vote to a House Bill day – which means the Senate was considering bills sent over from the House; therefore a 2/3 vote was not required to move to third reading and debate.  Otherwise, it would have taken all 19 Republican votes and two Democrat votes to get the bill to the floor.   

The Senate’s budget bill is not completely funded.  The funding for the spending in the bill is based on whether or not the comptroller’s revenue projections are accurate.  If the revenue comes up short, Senator Ogden (Finance Committee Chair) took out the provisions of the bill that rely on a dip into the Rainy Day Fund to cover the shortfall — for now.  Instead, if the spending exceeds revenue, the bill reduces Medicaid spending by $1.25 billion and includes a contingent appropriation equivalent to a 1.2 percent across-the-board spending cut in everything except public education and debt services.

The across-the-board cuts will take place if the comptroller says the money isn’t available; if it is, those cuts won’t happen.

Medicaid cuts are another accounting gimmick.  If Medicaid comes up short when the legislature is back in 2013, they’ll take care of it then.  (Perhaps by a delayed raid on the Rainy Day Fund??)  The TX Senate’s budget pushes $3 billion in Medicaid spending off for the next Legislature to deal with!  A “kick the can down the road” method of budget balancing if ever I saw one! 

Shocked?  If you are, please get over the romanticized idea that a majority of officials in Austin are Sam Houston and Davy Crockett — they aren’t!  Washington DC budget gimmicks are in play right here in TX! 

And what was not cut in the TX Senate’s budget bill?  Well…we still have overlapping, duplicated state agencies, departments, and programs.  In fiscal matters bill SB 1811, no pay cuts for state employees making over $60K a year; not even pay cuts for employees making over $200K a year; no cut for statewide elected officials.  The Senate rejected a hiring freeze on vacancies (unfilled positions) in non-essential services.   In fact, it was Republicans who led the charge to talk down those amendments last week.  So don’t believe the spin the State Republican Party Chair is putting out about the budget.  We watched it and we saw with our own eyes! 

Note:  Before you read these votes, remember teachers are NOT state employees: 

Hiring freeze rejected 18-13:  For: Birdwell, Carona, Eltife, Fraser, Harris, Hegar, Huffman, Jackson, Nelson, Nichols, Patrick, Seliger, Shapiro.  (Smith County – Deuell voted against hiring freeze!) 

Suspend longevity (tenure) pay supplements for two years; failed 22-9:  For:  Birdwell, Carona, Eltife, Fraser, Huffman, Jackson, Nelson, Patrick, Shapiro.  (Smith County – Deuell and Nichols voted to keep longevity pay for state employees!) 

Cut pay 10% for next 2 yrs – all state employees making $200,000 & above, failed 21-10.  For:  Birdwell, Carona, Eltife, Fraser, Hegar, Huffman, Nelson, Patrick, Shapiro, Wentworth. (Smith County – Deuell and Nichols helped defeat this pay cut.) 

Cut pay 5% for state employees making $100,000 & above; failed 21-10.  For:  Birdwell, Carona, Eltife, Fraser, Hegar, Huffman, Nelson, Patrick, Shapiro, Wentworth. (Again, Smith County, Deuell and Nichols helped defeat this pay cut for state employees.)

What makes state employees a whole different class of worker than those in the private sector?  Why are these employees exempt from pay cuts? 

The final vote to pass SB 1811 without these sensible cuts was 21-10. 

Yeas:  Davis, Deuell, Duncan, Ellis, Eltife, Estes, Gallegos, Harris, Hinojosa,

Lucio, Nichols, Ogden, Rodriguez, Seliger, Uresti, Van de Putte, Watson, Wentworth,

West, Whitmire, Zaffirini.  

Voting against the fiscal matters bill because the cuts were rejected:  Birdwell, Carona, Fraser, Hegar, Huffman, Jackson, Nelson, Patrick, Shapiro, Williams. 

Next the budget goes to a conference committee of house and senate members.  As soon as I know who the conferees are, I will send out an alert for more calls and faxes.  We expect an effort to spend more, not cut more.  It depends on who is appointed from the House and Senate to serve on the conference committee. 

I need to see you at our Call to Action meeting on Friday.  I’ll have more updates on illegal alien bills, voter ID, and transportation bills.  (We will also have some special guests. Two are my colleagues on the Advisory Committee to the TP Caucus of the TX Legislature.)

Surrender is NOT an option!  Soldier on… 

JoAnn Fleming, Chair, Advisory Committee to the Tea Party Caucus – TX Legislature and Executive Director (volunteer)
Grassroots America – We the People  www.gawtp.com
(903) 894-7204 home office or (903) 360-2858 cell

 If you love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”

Samuel Adams, Philadelphia State House, August 1, 1776

 

Where applicable, a political advertisement paid for by the GAWTP PAC, PO Box 130012, Tyler, TX 75713, Jimmie Taylor, PAC Treasurer.