Strange rumblings have been heard at the Texas State Capitol. Following the passage of the budget bill out of the state House of Representatives, the scuttlebutt is that Chairman of the Appropriations Committee Jim Pitts has voiced thoughts of members adding an additional $5 billion to the bill. This is before the bill even gets through the state Senate where there is no doubt that more will be added.
Does Chairman Pitts have a fear of success? Why would this be happening now? Typically a chairman would be the protector of his committee members who vote with him. He should be supporting the members, not deserting them.
This is unprecedented, according to long time political insiders. The chairman and his committee should be holding firm and honoring those who made tough choices and took hard votes to get a common sense budget on its way through the process.
Kudos to Rep Phil King who discovered $100 million in fees embedded in the appropriations bill. After King found this, an amendment was made stating that fees are not in effect unless they were adopted in separate legislation.
The challenge to the state Senate now is to find non-tax revenue. Savings that may sound small on their own would add up to a healthy number taken all together. Some are talking about raiding the boll weevel eradication fund, which sounds unimportant but, in fact, isn't. It is there for cotton farmers to use if needed for quick action.
Perhaps a sales tax holiday tied to budget conditions - if needed, proclaim a sales tax holiday to add to a large budget deficit.
Maybe consider releasing non-violent parole eligible illegal aliens. It is not as dangerous as it initially may sound. They are not truly released, as in released into the general population. ICE picks them up and immediately processes them for deportation. That alone could save about $100 million.
It's a start. Stand firm and honor your fellow representatives, Chairman Pitts. Move forward, not backwards.