Both the Senate Finance and House Appropriations committees recently approved appropriations bills to restore funding for Article X, the legislative branch of state government, following its veto by Gov. Greg Abbott. The House Appropriations Committee voted out House Bill 1 on July 9, while the Senate Finance Committee approved its version of the mini-appropriations bill, Senate Bill 10, on July 13. The bills are identical and both appropriate $316.1 million to restore funding for staff, operating and equipment costs for the following legislative agencies:
The difference between the $316.1 million and the $410.4 million in All Funds appropriated during the 87th Regular Session to Article X in SB 1, the 2022-2023 biennial budget, is due to the Governor leaving funding for the state share of employee benefit costs (e.g., health insurance and retirement) for legislative staff intact. Of course, these funds would not be expended should the estimated 2,100 legislative employees be laid-off or furloughed. Democratic lawmakers in the House have asked the Texas Supreme Court to override Gov. Abbott’s veto, arguing that it violates the state’s separation of powers doctrine. If the Supreme Court were to rule the veto unconstitutional, the Article X appropriations would take effect Sept. 1, 2021, like the other appropriations in SB 1 the Governor did not veto.
Citing the statutory timeline to certify appropriation acts, the staff of Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar have indicated that the Legislature has until Aug. 20, to reinstate legislative funding for the fiscal year that begins Sept. 1.
To date, there has been no further action, other than the budget-writing committees voting out committee reports, to restore funding for the legislative branch. To complete restoration of Article X funding, both the full House and Senate must approve the legislation and send it to Gov. Abbott for his signature. Such action cannot take place until the House returns a quorum.
For more information about this article, please contact Zelma Smith.