After a day of waiting and, finally, a short floor debate, the House overwhelmingly approved a resolution creating a fund to implement the state water plan Wednesday evening, 130-16.
Senate Joint Resolution 1 had been one of two measures at the heart of a stalemate with the Senate, as each chamber waited on the other to pass bills crucial to the budget. Minutes after the Senate finally took up House Bill 1025, which includes $2 billion for water planning, the House began considering SJR 1, which asks voters to approve creating the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas, which would get that $2 billion.
Rep. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) tried to add an amendment capping contributions to the fund at $2 billion.
“All I’m saying is, we’ve been told $2 billion is the number, they’re saying $2 billion is all we need to start up the infrastructure,” said Perry. “Let’s just make that part of the process and say that’s all we’re going to do.”
Opponents argued that placing a constitutional cap on water spending is illogical, since it wouldn’t account for population growth and growing water needs.
“Establishing a [cap] of $2 billion is based on the assumption that going forward, nothing is going to change in our economy, in our demographics, in our environmental water needs,” said Rep. Mike Villarreal (D-San Antonio).
Most representatives agreed, and the amendment was shot down.
Members were relaxed as they observed the debate from their desks—in the end, there was little doubt lawmakers would approve the resolution. “Whoever votes against this gets the water turned off in their office,” joked Rep. Tony Dale (R-Cedar Park) from his seat.
Raucous applause and cheers broke out as votes for the resolution lit up the board in the House chamber. It’ll be up to voters in November to decide whether to create the fund for water planning.