Agreement on state budget evades House, Senate

by Ed Sterling
June 1 is the last day of the 84th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature. From now until then is all the time that remains for the House and Senate to decide if they’re going to agree on a 2016-2017 state budget. BoBoth chambers could be ordered to meet around the clock until an agreed-upon budget is passed, if House Speaker Joe Straus and/or Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick deem it necessary or worthwhile. Any proposed agreement would originate in a House Bill 1 conference committee composed of five House members and five Senate members. House members are: Appropriations Committee Chair John Otto, R-Dayton and Vice Chair Sylvester Turner, DHouston; Trent Ashby, R-Lufkin; Sarah Davis, R-Houston; and Larry Gonzales, R-Round Rock. Senate members are: Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound; Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen; Joan Huffman, R-Houston; Lois Kolkhorst, RBrenham; and Charles Schwertner, RGeorgetown. As reported repeatedly since March, the main obstacle toward agreement on a budget is the two bodie’ disagreement over how to cut state taxes. The Senate voted to cut ad valorem taxes while the House voted to cut the state sales tax from 6.25 percent to 5.95 percent. Both bodies want to cut the business franchise tax, which would please Gov. Greg Abbott, who made that task one of several stated priorities for the Legislature to accomplish.

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