Are lawmakers playing "chicken" with state budget?

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by FOTI KALLERGIS / KVUE News and Photojournalist KENNETH NULL

kvue.com

Posted on May 22, 2013 at 7:19 AM

Updated Wednesday, May 22 at 5:10 PM

AUSTIN -- It's a race against time as state lawmakers try to pass a nearly $200 billion budget and school testing reform.

House Bill Five could be voted on as early as Wednesday. It deals with limiting end of course exams in schools across Texas to four exams: English, U.S. history, Biology and Algebra I. It would also lessen the impact of those tests on students' grades.

Lawmakers still haven't been able to pass a state budget, even though they've already shaken hands on the deal. The hold up is with Senate Joint Resolution One. That bill is in the house. It would ask voters to approve the creation of a state fund dedicated to water infrastructure projects.

Before passing SJR1, the House wants to make sure that another bill, HB 1025, passes in the Senate. That bill includes some Rainy Day Funds and dedicates even more funds to public education, something that has been a big point of contention between lawmakers.

"There is a lot of back and forth going on, a lot of who's going to show their hand first," said Rep. Donna Howard (D) Austin. "There seems to be some mistrust between the two houses right now, some egos that may be involved, but I think we have the wherewithal to do it, and I think we have the votes to make this happen."

"I think it makes people fell comfortable when these bills are moving sort of as a package," said State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D) San Antonio. "And quite frankly, I have reason to believe everyone is working in good faith, but again, this is one of those situations where actions speak louder than words."

It has now become a matter of who will go first before time runs out. The 83rd Legislative Session ends on Memorial Day, May 27.

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