The House Appropriations Committee will finalize its version of the General Appropriations Act (HB 1) during the next few days in order to meet various deadlines imposed by the House Rules. The committee is required to report HB 1 to the House floor by the 90th day of the session, which is April 11. HB 1 must be distributed to each House member at least seven days before it may be considered on second reading and it usually takes five days to print HB 1 for all members, meaning the committee must actually vote out the bill in late March. Unlike the House, the Senate budget procedures are not that complicated; SB 1 follows the same rules that apply to all other legislation before the Senate.
Other major budget items being heard in the House Appropriations Committee include the supplemental appropriations bill (HB 4) that reduces various agencies’ current fiscal year by $1.27 billion and the economic stabilization bill (HB 275), also known as the Rainy Day Fund, of which $4.27 billion will be used to offset the current budget shortfall in FY2011.
Senate Finance Subcommittee on Medicaid, Public Education
In the past week, the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Medicaid heard invited public testimony from Health and Human Services agencies. Subcommittee Chair Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) recommended that any items deemed critical be held in a place-holder until additional funding can be appropriated to SB 1. It is anticipated that the Subcommittee on Medicaid will have to reduce Article II agencies’ funding by $9 billion for the next budget cycle. In addition, the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Public Education is also anticipated to reduce funds to public education by at least $4 billion, if not more.
Continuing the Process
Assuming HB 1 is voted favorably out of the House Appropriations Committee before the end of March, members in both chambers will have less than nine weeks remaining to pass a budget this session. The Senate Finance Committee typically adopts the House version of the budget and votes out SB 1 as a committee substitute. Any variation between the two appropriations bills will trigger House Rule 13, sec. 9(b) and Senate Rule 12.04, which allows a conference committee to be appointed to reconcile the different sections of the bill.
During the remainder of the session, the TAC County Information Project will provide periodic updates on HB 1/SB 1 and other significant appropriation bills as they proceed through the legislative process.
For more information, contact Paul Emerson, TAC state financial analyst, at (800) 456-5974.