Yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee took the first official step in addressing the Fiscal Year 2011 budget gap of $4.3 billion. The Committee voted on two pieces of legislation, HB 275 and HB 4. HB 275, which received a unanimous vote, would allow the drawing of $3.11 billion from the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund, otherwise known as the Rainy Day Fund. House Bill 4 would implement $800 million in cuts and use $300 million from increased sales tax collections over the last few months. This move was publicly supported by Governor Rick Perry, Speaker Joe Straus and Comptroller Susan Combs who issued a joint press release prior to the Committee’s vote. The Democrats on the Committee voted against HB 4.
When the dust settled after last Friday’s bill filing deadline, we were left with 5873 bills and joint resolutions. This is down from a total of 7324 last session. Expect to see a few more local bills trickle in since they are not subject to the same deadline. In addition, the Texas Senate will often vote to allow a member to file a bill after the deadline. Most legislative experts attribute the lower number of bills to a combination of a tough budget and the redistricting process.