The Texas Observer MAY 26, 1967 A Journal of Free Voices A Window to The South 25c Down to the Nitty Gritty Austin After all the oratory, the press releases, the earnest interviews on radio and television, and the posturing, legislators, at the end, get down to what they’ve really been up to. The nub of the matter is unveiled with the passage of the budget; that’s when the people see what it has all been about. A conference committee last week was given the task of reconciling the differences between the Senate and House spending bills, whose primary difference is the amount to be given for teachers’ pay raises. The Senate’s bill includes $55 million of raises for the teachers; the House’s has about $34.5 million. The Senate leadership is determined to stick with the full amount of its teachers’ pay raise, while the House is believed to be committed to providing what its members consider adequate financing for pollution control, the higher education master plan, and care for the mentally retarded. Then any surplus would go to the teachers. At the beginning of this week the House evidently won its point on the matter of water pollution, at least. Speaker Ben Barnes announced that the lower house’s appropriation of $3 million had been accepted by the conference committee, in place of the Senate’s $454,742. Probably no tax increase will be necessary; that was the idea when Gov. John Connally decided to recommend that a one-year budget be drawn up this time and then he’ll call a special session next year to work out a budget for the second year of the biennium. TWO WEEKS AGO the Senate passed its budget bill and sent it on to the House. The House leadership substituted their own bill and adopted it with only slight amendment last week. The Senate declined to accept the House’s bill and so the conference committee was made necessary. While the House bill was under consideration the ,Republican minority kept the debate going for three hours and 40 minutes, while the conservative Democratic leadership alternately squirmed and lashed out verbally at the dissenting GOP members. Republican House members are Chuck Scoggins of Corpus Christi, Frank Cahoon of Midland, and Malouf Abraham of Canadian. The Republicans had the advice of Vernon McGee in submitting their amendments. McGee had been retained as a research consultant by the state GOP organization a couple of weeks before. He had been fired after 16 years as state budget director, pushed out of office by Barnes and’ Connally, who regarded McGee as an impediment to the governor’s budgetary wishes and as a man who too frequently, in their view, sided with the Senate leadership. The Republicans’ amendments questioned, unsuccessfully in each case, the provisions of the House budget \(many of A statement that none of the Health Dept. appropriation could be used for making studies of cotton gins, particularly as to their role in air pollution. A statement in the attorriik general’s office appropriation that exempts lawyers working there from havitik to be included in the classified position act which establishes the number of jobs and the pay for each. Lawyers had never been excluded before, Scoggins said.’ A $125,000 appropriation to .build an international friendship center at Brownsville. Why should such a center, for the display of arts and crafts, be built after $5.5 million was appropriated during this session for HemisFair? asked Cahoon. Rep. Maurice Pipkin, Brownsville, explained that the center would cost $350, 000 and that the state money would not be used unless the ladies who were seeking the center raised the difference. The administrator of the Liquor Control Board would have his salary raised to $25,000 from the present $20,000. He made $14,500 in 1963. Cahoon said he thought this was too much of a raise, given other pressing money needs facing’ the legislature. To develop a park near Spur, $50,000 was appropriated; Scoggins wanted to reduce this to $10,000. The Coordinating Board has a $500,000 appropriation to finance more studies in developing a master plan for higher education; since there have been numerous studies already, Scoggins said, let’s reduce this to $100,000. “Why doesn’t the board act and quit pussy footing around?” he asked. Turning to another section of the bill, Scoggins noted that all past appropriations measures had included a requirement that state-employed pilots must keep logs of an airplane’s destination, who the pilot was, the names of the passengers, and the purpose of all trips. This, of course, was a thrust by the Republicans at the plane which the 1965 legislature bought for Gov. Connally. “The usual provision has been omitted,” Scoggins said, “indicating to me that some state officials want to fly around the state” without being checked on. Scoggins was told that the legislature had passed a law in 1965 to take care of the things he was worried about. “Then it wouldn’t hurt to have it in this appropriations bill,” he answered. Scoggins then listed a number of features of the bill which, he said, are too loosely drawn for the state comptroller to certify them. For instanee, $500,000 is appropriated for the Dept.’ of Agriculture for gathering county agribUltural statistics; research on wool, mohair, and cotton; marketing and production of vegetables and castor beans; controlling the fire ant; calibrating milk tanks; improving fruit production; and eradicating boll weevils. How much of that money is to go to each item? Scoggins asked. A T VARIOUS points throughout the Republicans’ introduction of amendments, some of the Democrats tried to interrupt them with questions or to offer a derogatory comment. Several times the Republicans were accused of “demagouging.” Order was often bad during the “debate” on the bill. Four or five times questions asked by floor leaders of the House drew applause from other members, in the spirit of “That’s telling ’em.” Scoggins concluded by reading a writ. ten statement, summarizing the COP’s objections to the bill. Rep. Jim Clark, Dallas, inquired, “Is the gentleman finished reading Mr. McGee’s remarks?” and then asked how much the amendments, if adopted, would have cut from the budget. Scoggins said he wasn’t sure, but guessed about five or six million dollars. How much of that would have come from general revenue or could have been applied \(Continued
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