Legislation to Increase School Funding Dies

In the final days of the Legislature, SB 2078 - a bill regarding school hazard and emergency preparedness plans - became the main vehicle for the "bathroom bill", which has been a major sticking point between House and Senate leaders throughout the 140-day session.

The education measure would phase in a $280 million increase in spending on schools over two years. Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham, would have applied to bathrooms and locker rooms in government buildings, public schools and colleges and universities. Gina Hinojosa, D-Austin, would have rerouted $3 million from the governor's homeland security budget and directed it to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to help trafficking victims receive "necessary services", though it did not specify which ones.

When asked if she is asking lawmakers to adopt Senate Bill 860, she didn't commit.

"That is not something that I would ever pass", the Houston Representative said.

"This is a smart move by the Legislature that will save taxpayer money".

House budget writers declined to take a hatchet to the Department of Environmental Quality.

That's prompted increased talk of possibly breaking out a less ambitious bill aimed at keeping insurance markets stable over the next two years, Republicans say. Those two "Obamacare" changes made coverage more robust, but also increased the cost. "We supported the original HB 22 by [House Public Education] Chairman [Dan] Huberty because it delayed implementation of Texas" A-F system until 2019, required "what if' performance ratings to be issued in 2017 and 2018, and eliminated the overall A-F grade for schools and districts", said spokeswoman Amy Francisco. The income tax exemption for owners of 330,000 businesses and a law requiring reductions to state income tax rates would be repealed.

That compares with 28 million under age 65 who would lack insurance that year under the current health law signed by President Barack Obama. Craig Blair predicted in an interview before adjournment that lawmakers might not settle the budget and tax-reform issues until June 20.

Numerous one-time funds come from agency accounts.

That ended hopes from child welfare advocates that 2017 would be the first year in recent memory in which state lawmakers might set aside funds specifically meant to help victims who were sold for sex.

The House gave the measure first-round approval Wednesday on an 81-40 vote.

Sparks was talking about Senate Bill 845, which would charge wholesalers a $1.50 smoking cessation fee on every pack of cigarettes.

Trump and Republicans celebrated the House's narrow May 4 passage of the bill in a Rose Garden ceremony after several embarrassing setbacks, even as GOP senators signaled it had little chance of becoming law without significant changes.

The measure is projected to raise $257 million next fiscal year, but Sparks warned that the courts could overturn the new law, placing important state agencies in a financial lurch.

McSpadden said he's optimistic the bill works and all teachers stick to their jobs when it comes to students. But opponents argue that once Texas agrees to start using public money to fund private schools, the program will expand exponentially, as have voucher plans in other states.