Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Let the Budgeting Begin

The House Conference Committee met for the first time this morning and discussed an overview of Sen. Steve Ogden's (R-Bryan) SB 1. This General Appropriations bill allocates the State's budget, but distributes these limited funds differently in the Senate and House Substitute versions of this bill. While no decisions were made today, a divide and conquer strategy was devised where two sections of the bill were to be approached first. Article IV(Judiciary) and Article V (Public Safety and Criminal Justice) are scheduled for discussion on Friday.
To assure accomplishment with these areas Rep. Sylvester Turner (D-Houston), of the House Conference Committee, and Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston), of the Senate Conference Committee, plan to meet on Thursday to bridge the gap between the Senate and House versions of the bill.
"The Senate spent more than the House (in this bill), so the
question is, will the House move close to the Senate or will the Senate move
close to the House," said Rep. Turner. "Conceptually, the Senate and the House
will both move in the middle."
Both Rep. Turner and Sen. Whitmire want to avoid building new prisons in Texas, so they will be working towards providing adequate funding for programs that help prevent prison over-population, like probation, parole, and rehabilatation programs.
"Our ideologies are very similar in criminal justice," said Turner, "We will probably solve our differences in an hour."
Hopefully the two Houstonians won't overlook key elements in this short time frame and will develop a sensible spending plan for these two imporant areas.