Top issues remain in play as Legislature enters final month
Only a month is left for lawmakers to get the state’s business done in the 86th regular session of the Texas Legislature. Still unfinished are the issues at the top of a list shared by Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen: the passage of a state budget for fiscal years 2020-2021, property tax reform and school finance reform. Last week, a conference committee of 10 House and Senate budget writers began negotiations over the two chambers’ budget bills. While the negotiators have agreed on $9 billion to spend on property tax relief and education finance reform, the two versions are about $400 million apart on state revenue spending and $3.2 billion apart, out of a total of about $250 billion in all funds, according to the Senate News Service. “This process is made easier by the fact that both chambers are prioritizing three key issues: that’s certainly property tax relief, education reform and teacher salary,” said Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound. “The good news,” she added, “is that both chambers have demonstrated their commitment to our top priorities.” Any differences in the House and Senate budgets must be resolved before a final version can be presented for an up or down vote in each chamber before the session ends on its 140th day — Monday, May 27.
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