Elsewhere Under the Dome
Rounding up the news left on the chamber floors
The Senate passed Senate Bill 1, its draft budget, on March 28, with $106.3 billion in spending for the 2018-19 biennium. That's up from their original $103.6 billion draft, but still below the $106.8 billion proposed in House Bill 1, the lower chamber's spending proposal. House lawmakers have filed more than 400 amendments to the budget bill, ranging from abortion to transgender rights to border security. Expect a long and controversial showdown this Thursday, April 6... The two chambers appear to remain divided on whether to use the Rainy Day Fund to balance the budget, but there is optimism that rhetoric from Gov. Greg Abbott (who only opposes using the fund for recurring expenses) may leave an opening for the House's plan to dip into the fund for one-off expenses... The Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education has broken its traditional silence on the state budget by slamming the Senate's proposal to impose sweeping cuts on state universities and colleges. The group, which includes administrators, regents, and business leaders, says the proposals will undermine academic standings and research... Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, is concerned that the state budget is not taking into account massive federal cuts proposed by the Trump administration. He told the Chronicle: "The budget is being written in the vacuum of saying, 'Something will happen, but we will move forward.'"... More bad news for Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Pflugerville: Early this week, District Judge Brad Urrutia denied her attorneys' request to dismiss four of the 13 felony charges she currently faces relating to abuse of office. Dukes continues to be a rare presence at the Legislature, and her working relationship with the rest of the Travis County delegation is basically nonexistent.