Hot List: Day 36 of the Legislature


Dave Mann

The Lead:

House Democrats gave it the old college try yesterday (or should it be public school try?). Anyway, they hoped to prod the House to restore some of the $5.4 billion cut from public schools in 2011. Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio offered a resolution for the House to debate restoring some of the public school cuts early in the session. It was partly an effort to increase funding for education and partly an effort to put Republicans on the spot and take a tough vote. In the end, the vote never happened. Speaker Joe Straus, protecting the House membership from a tough vote, refused to allow a roll call on Martinez Fischer’s effort.

It’s surely just the first of what should be intense debates over funding for public education this session. In 2011, Republicans enacted the deepest cuts to education anyone can remember, and Democrats seem determined to not let them forget it.

Yesterday’s Headlines:

1. State Board of Education Chair Barbara Cargill went before the Senate Nominations Committee on Monday morning. But, as the Observer‘s Patrick Michels writes in a hilarious piece, it was freshman Sen. Donna Campbell who stole the show.

2. Amid the Democrats’ effort to force a debate on education funding, Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) also voiced support for reforming education funding, as the Observer‘s Liz Farmer reports.

3. The House Appropriations Committee passed a $4.8 billion supplemental spending bill yesterday. The bill would fix the mother of all Medicaid IOUs leftover from 2011. The bill must pass by mid March for the Medicaid program to keep paying its bills. Expect the supplemental bill on the House floor early next week. The Statesman has more details.

Line(s) of the Day:

“We don’t want to eliminate those things that you still do have to go on faith that are out there. I would venture to—we’re not gonna know until we go onto eternity. Obviously, I’m a Christian. I do believe in God as the creator of life … I’m just trying to see, and I don’t know if it’s your purview or I need to check with the TEA where that falls in line to make sure we’re not just teaching that evolution is our only—because we can measure—to me obviously, if I was creating anything and had a good model like DNA, I’d use it. And just tweak it a bit, and have a monkey here and a fish here, whatever.” —Sen. Donna Campbell (R-San Antonio) during yesterday’s Senate Nominations hearing on SBOE Chair Barbara Cargill.

What We’re Watching Today:

1. The Senate Natural Resources Committee will meet this morning to hear several big water bills, including Sen. Troy Fraser’s SB 4 on the Water Development Board.

2. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee will examine its first large slate of Senate bills today, as legislation begins rolling toward floor votes.

3. Meanwhile, the House Appropriations Committee has splintered into subcommittees to hear testimony on major sections of the state budget such as health care and education.