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Legislative update 1/20/21

The 87th Texas Legislature regular session is going to be fast and furious. It kicked off Jan. 12 with rules approvals and other formalities. It is now adjourned until Jan. 26.
To refresh: the Texas Legislature meets every odd-numbered year for 140 days, as dictated by the Texas Constitution. While the governor can call special sessions to focus on specific issues, this session is the big one.

At the top of the agenda will be approving the state budget, while navigating coronavirus health restrictions in the statehouse and working through the economic challenges created by the pandemic and shutdown. Plus, lawmakers must agree on redrawn representative districts based on the 2020 census.
Key actions last week include:
  • Both houses approved COVID-19 safety protocols for the session
  • Representative Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) was sworn in as the Speaker of the Texas House.
  • The Senate changed their rules to allow a bill to come to the floor with only 18 votes — the same number of seats held by Republican senators — rather than the previous 19 votes. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick had urged the move. With the rule, Republicans may bring bills to the floor for consideration without the need to secure Democratic support.
Comptroller Glenn Hegar released his Biennial Revenue Estimate (BRE), projecting that the state will have $112.5 billion in revenue available for general-purpose spending during the 2022-23 biennium.
The current projected budget reflects:
  • Roughly $1 billion ($950 million) deficit in General Revenue as opposed to earlier projections of about $4.6 billion.
  • General Revenue Budget which is the primary focus of where to allocate funds totals $112.5 billion.
  • The total available in all funds for 2022-23 budget development is $270 billion.
  • This amount does not account for increased funding needs for public education (TAB priority)
  • Does not include 5% agency cuts which could eliminate much of the shortfall
  • Federal funds could also assist with some of the budget shortfall.

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