Protesters Gather Outside House Chamber During HB1 Debate


As the debate on the House budget bill dragged on late into Friday night, chants of “Say no to HB1!” slowly began to be heard. While lawmakers discussed just where and how they would cut $23 billion from the current level of state spending for the 2012-2013 biennium, activists came out to protest the cuts.

Just outside the doors of the House chambers, more than 30 protestors from various organization including the American Federation of Teachers, ADAPT and the Down Syndrome Association, drummed on cardboard caskets labeled with the various areas being cut—education, public safety, health care.

The group protesting these dire cuts raised enough of a raucous to attract a number of state lawmakers to peek their heads outside the chamber doors. With only 49 members, the Democrats have little clout in the budget debate. A number of House Democrats took the opportunity to vent their frustrations.

Rep. Naomi Gonzalez, D-El Paso, led the chant, “WTF—where’s the funding?” Rep. Armando Walle, D-Houston, yelled, “I’m not ‘no’ for HB 1, I’m ‘Hell no!’”

Of course, it was also a chance for the Democrats to do a little campaigning as well.

“If you bring more of us [Democrats] back, you can make sure that this will never happen again,” Walle told the group. 

But long-time Democrat leader Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin, was the most eloquent. “Thank you,” he said. “It’s great to know there are good people out here supporting what some of us are trying to do.”