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Hot List: Day 49 of the Legislature

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The future of education is on everybody's mind - young and old - at Saturday's Save Texas Schools Rally.
Beth Cortez-Neavel
The future of education is on everybody's mind - young and old - at Saturday's Save Texas Schools Rally.

The Lead:

Last Thursday the House got down to business and unanimously passed HB 10, which allots $4.5 billion into the budget for the state’s Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs and $630 million the state owed to public education.

Meanwhile, the Senate and House Education committees are considering the next step in scaling down the state’s standardized tests. The Observer’s Patrick Michels has written about one mother’s protest against the testing regime and others who are following her example by pulling their children out of benchmark tests.

Weekend Headlines:

1. Florida Gov. Rick Scott did a full 180 last week when he threw his support behind Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, a position he and Gov. Rick Perry had denounced. Now the pressure’s on Perry, who continues to oppose an expansion of Medicaid largely paid for by the federal government, as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.

2. Thousands descended upon the Capitol on Saturday for the Save Texas Schools rally. As the Observer’s Beth Cortez-Neavel reports, many groups were angry about the lack of funding for education and the state’s high-stakes testing regime.

Line of the Day:

“I’m a firm believer that they did exactly what they thought they needed to do.”  –Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw told legislators the agency’s new ban on shooting from helicopters had nothing to do with a trooper who shot and killed two Guatemalan men late last year. The men were mistaken for drug smugglers.

What We’re Watching Today:

1. Budget writers in both chambers will continue to meet. The House Appropriations Committee will consider added recommendations from a number of agencies today under Article VIII of the budget.

2. Senate Education and Senate Finance will meet in a workgroup to discuss the funding system for K-through-12 education. That’s sure to be an interesting show  since the funding system was deemed unconstitutional in Travis County court.

3. The House Ways and Means Committee will hear a bill this afternoon by Rep. Lyle Larson to reallocate the sporting goods tax, which is supposed to fund state parks—emphasis on supposed to. Budget writers have raided the sporting goods tax in recent years to balance the budget, a trend that’s angered many lawmakers because the state parks are so strapped for cash.