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Hot List: Day 50

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Day 50 of the 82nd Texas Legislature

“After all, you are John Bradley—God’s gift to us.”
—Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, sarcastically addressing Forensic Science Commission Chair John Bradley at yesterday’s Senate Nominations Committee hearing.

I talked to Pitts today after he announced his bill to spend more than $4 billion from the Rainy Day fund. “A lot of people thought, ‘Well, we can cut $30 billion off the total budget and that’s no big deal,'”Pitts said. “But that’s a big deal….A lot of people when they run for election they [say they’ll] cut the fat in our budget,” he continued. “Well, the Texas budget doesn’t have fat.” 

Texas counties stand to lose billions in Medicaid, health and human service and public and higher education dollars thanks to proposed budget cuts, according to data released by the Center for Public Policy Priorities. Texas could lose $18 billion in state and federal Medicaid dollars, including $2.7 billion in Harris County alone. 

Comptroller Susan Combs released a report Monday showing tax exemptions will cost the state $32 billion in 2011, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The exemptions allow individuals and businesses to skip paying the sales tax, franchise tax and gasoline tax. The state could use some of that money with the budget in deficit.  

Today the Senate Health and Human Service Committee will hear a bill by state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, that proposes banning smoking at certain workplaces. Witnesses for and against the measure, which would supersede any local ordinance, will testify at the hearing.

Alexa Garcia-Ditta is an Observer reporter (and former intern) covering women's health, reproductive health and health care access across the Lone Star State. Before joining the Observer, she was a staff news writer at the San Antonio Current. She holds an MA in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and BA in journalism and Spanish from UT-Arlington, where she worked for three years on her college newspaper. After graduate school, she dipped her toe in public policy communications at the Center for Public Policy Priorities. When she's not at work, she's probably training for her next marathon.