Texas House votes to nix vouchers, maybe dooming Senate bill

Cheryl Sanders
April 7, 2017

The House's budget proposal is set to go to a vote tomorrow but members think heated debates on some hot button issues will continue on into the early morning on Friday.

The House also aims to give $1.9 billion dollars in additional funding to public education, and $430 million to Child Protective Services and the Texas Foster Care system, but would also include cuts of about $2.4 billion dollars to Medicaid.

The Texas House has voted to take $20 million from the state's environmental agency and funnel it toward an "Alternative to Abortion" program that counsels low-income, pregnant women. I don't believe that we can stand down while the federal government steps up.

"A lot of Republican members want to be able to say they voted for money on the border to stop this perceived immigration problem", said Rep. Chris Turner, who leads the House Democratic Caucus.

Several Republicans filed amendments that look to trim parts of the budget to pay for a controversial anti-abortion counseling program.

House Democrats proposed redirecting millions of dollars in border security funding to pay for other programs.

In a almost all-night floor session, House lawmakers are expected to squabble about amendments affecting bathrooms, the border and other hot topics.

"It's my favorite spot on the planet and I can't imagine building a wall through Big Bend State Park", Israel said.

"Under one budget amendment, funds would be cut to any state or government agency that use public funds to "'construct, renovate, or reclassify" a restroom to "allow or enable a man to enter a women's restroom facility, '" according to the Texas Tribune.

Thursday's 103-44 vote came during the House's larger budget debate and could kill a sweeping "school choice" bill approved by the state Senate last week.

"We have really cut as much as we could cut", Zerwas said.

State Representatives pre-filed more than 400 amendments to the House's budget plan.

"You can cut and cut but at some point you start amputating", Zerwas said.

The Senate version leaves the Rainy Day Fund untouched, but it does put off paying some of the state's bills until the following budget cycle to avoid going into the red.

When Zerwas, with the help of his top lieutenants on the Appropriations Committee, signaled his opposition to Arlington Republican Tony Tinderholt's effort to drop some $13 million in state aid to the arts, the House rejected the move by a 4-1 margin. The total fund is scheduled to end the year with $10.4 billion dollars.

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