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Hot List: 29 Day of the Legislature

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The Lead:

After a grueling 44 days in court, Travis County District Judge John Dietz issued his ruling yesterday in the school finance trial that will determine the future of public school funding in Texas. The basics: More than 600 school districts sued the state, and Dietz ruled the current system violates the Texas constitution. The state will appeal the ruling to the Texas Supreme Court, which will determine how much additional money the Legislature must put into the schools. In the meantime, lawmakers might be wise to set some money aside for education.

Yesterday’s Headlines:

1. The Observer‘s Patrick Michels reports in more detail about the last day of the school finance trial in the Travis County district court. Next stop for the case: the Texas Supreme Court.

2. The Senate Finance Committee created its own  stir Monday afternoon, chastising the Texas Department of Transportation chief for his presentation to the committee. Executive Director Phil Wilson didn’t offer one suggestion for how to get TxDOT out of debt. Luckily, as the Observer‘s Liz Farmer reports, Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler) had a plan for them in mind: creating a tax revenue for the agency.

3. The House Appropriations Committee got rolling yesterday, and had its own squabbles over Medicaid and the structural deficit, as the Dallas Morning News reports (subscription required).

Line(s) of the Day:

“For reasons that I have never understood, the state, each and every time when forced to look at the equity and constitutional conformity of the [school finance] system, have chosen to put a Band-Aid on what continues to be a gushing wound.” —Rick Gray, lawyer for the Equity Center

“Y’all just sit there like you kind of accept it… Talk about how severe things are. The economy of the state is about to go to hell.” —Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston) to TxDOT officials during yesterday’s Senate Finance Committee hearing.

What We’re Watching Today:

1. The House Appropriations Committee continues meeting on the budget today at 7:30 a.m. The committee will be dealing with the supplemental budget for state agencies like the Health and Human Services Commission, the Department of Aging and Disability Services, the Texas Public Finance Authority and the Texas Education Agency.

2. The House and Senate natural resources committees will meet together at 8:30 a.m. to deal with the statewide drought problems and to review the statewide water plan, which remains unfunded, but perhaps not for long.

3. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee will hold a hearing today on the troubled Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.