The regular session of the 82nd Legislature adjourned sine die on Monday, May 30, 2011, bringing a close to an extremely productive and fruitful 140 days where Republican legislators passed important legislation for Texas, including:
- Enacting Voter ID requirements
- the Sonogram Bill, relating to informed consent to an abortion
- Eminent Domain limitations
- Redistricting plans protecting Republican majorities in the Texas House, Texas Senate, and SBOE
However, despite these and other victories by our Republican legislators, Democratic Senators successfully worked to kill the lean, fiscally responsible budget agreement that had been carefully crafted during the session. In the final hours of Saturday’s debate, a Democratic Senator from Fort Worth “filibustered” SB 1811, a critical component to the ultimate success of the next biennium’s budget by stalling debate for a little over an hour until the deadline for passage had gone by.
In short, through these actions, Texas Democrats have shown yet again that they still refuse to acknowledge the lessons of last November’s election and the overwhelming call from Texans to shrink the size and scope of government. In what amounts to no more than a petulant display that has only slowed down final passage of the bill, Democrats took their stand against a budget which:
- Cuts spending by over $15 billion vs. the 2010-2011 budget,
- Increases spending on public education by $125 million from the 2010-2011 budget,
- Combines to allocate $71.1 billion to education and health care from General Revenue funding, and most importantly,
- Balances the budget without raising taxes.
This development gives Republicans another chance at several important legislative priorities in a special session. Although disappointed at the temporary setback on passing a fiscally responsible budget, Republican legislators led by Governor Rick Perry, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, and House Speaker Joe Straus, are already back at work to make final passage of the 2012-2013 Texas budget and other important items, in a special session of the Texas Legislature which began at 8:00am on Tuesday, May 31.
On Monday, Governor Perry issued a proclamation announcing the special session and stated: “We have taken great strides this session to strengthen Texas’ economic environment and protect private property rights, victims of human trafficking and the unborn, but critical work remains to ensure we have a balanced budget that provides essential services without raising taxes, while protecting the Rainy Day Fund for future emergencies,” Gov. Perry said. “I urge lawmakers to work quickly to complete the important work Texans expect us to finish.”
The first issues the Governor added to the call were:
- Legislation relating to fiscal matters necessary for the implementation of House Bill No. 1 as passed by the 82nd Legislature, Regular Session, including measures that will allow school districts to operate more efficiently.
- Legislation relating to healthcare cost containment, access to services through managed care, and the creation of economic and structural incentives to improve the quality of Medicaid services.
On Wednesday, Governor Perry announced the addition of congressional redistricting to the call. The first proposed Congressional redistricting map has been released by State Representative Burt Solomons (R-Carrollton) and Senator Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) and is available for viewing at the Texas Legislative Council Redviewer site – choose Plan C125 to see the map.
Other items can be added by Governor Perry to the call for this special session, and the RPT will work to keep you updated on the progress of the Legislature as they continue their work.