Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Advertise in our classifieds section
Your classified listing could be here!
October 4, 2022

Budget passed in Senate cuts education, Medicaid

Republicans pushed the next two-year budget through the Texas Senate on Wednesday by using a loophole to bypass Democrats, clearing the path for negotiations to begin with the House on the $176.5 billion spending plan.

After a week of delay, Senate leaders used a procedural maneuver to get around a long-held Senate tradition that requires a two-thirds agreement for the chamber to consider any legislation. Senators voted 19-12, along party lines, to approve the plan.

The plan makes about $11 billion in cuts compared with the current budget, though the cuts are much less severe than those in the bare-bones House version. Public schools and Medicaid providers, including nursing homes, would take the brunt of the cuts.

“This budget treats people as numbers,” said Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, the Senate’s
Democratic leader. 

Sen. Steve Ogden, the chief Senate budget writer, defended the budget, arguing his team was able to maintain current services despite a multibillion-dollar revenue shortfall.

“What do you do when the economy is not so healthy? The first thing is, you do no harm to that economy. You do everything you can to get that economy back on its feet,” Ogden, R-Bryan, said shortly before the vote. 

Normally, a two-thirds majority is necessary in the Senate to take up any bill, a supermajority that leaders didn’t have for the budget plan. But Republicans bypassed Democratic opposition by using a special rule that allows House bills to be considered on certain days without a two-thirds approval.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said a day earlier that he hoped he didn’t have to use the loophole in the rules to pass the budget.

Van de Putte said she and other Democrats were concerned about the parliamentary precedent set by the maneuver.

The GOP has a 19-12 majority in the chamber, but criticism over the budget mounted from both sides of the aisle over the use of about $3 billion from the Rainy Day Fund.

Republicans argued that $9.4 billion in the reserve fund should be left untouched, so it would be available during future state emergencies. Democrats said proposed cuts to schools and other programs are inhumane when the reserve fund is sitting idly by.

“We thought we had a bipartisan budget, a good budget, so quite frankly I was surprised last week when I got some push back from Republican senators on using the Rainy Day Fund and some of our [Democratic] senators started asking for more money,” Dewhurst said, shortly after the vote.

Ogden’s GOP-condoned compromise replaces about $3 billion in rainy-day money by underfunding Medicaid, pushing those payments to the end of the
budget period.

“The promise is that the money is going to be there, and frankly, I dated guys like that,” Van de Putte said, casting doubt on assurances that state coffers would see an uptick in revenue as the economy improves.

Ogden’s plan underfunds public schools by more than $4 billion.

The plan next goes back before the House, which is expected to reject the Senate version and appoint a conference committee to negotiate a compromise.

The state is facing a revenue shortfall of at least $15 billion. 

More to Discover
Activate Search
Budget passed in Senate cuts education, Medicaid