Texas Legislature Burns Midnight Oil To Pass Budget - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

6/2/03

Texas Legislature Burns Midnight Oil To Pass Budget

A balance budget full of cuts and no new taxes passed the house late Sunday night, which means lawmakers have taken care of the one bill they are required to pass. Saving their heaviest lifting for the last working day of the session, lawmakers spent Sunday in a rush to pass most major bills of the session.

With a handful of U.T. students urging a no vote from the senate gallery, lawmakers passed a controversial measure giving public universities, like Texas Tech, authority to set their own tuition rates beginning next year.

"It's quite obvious we do not have the revenue available to fund higher education adequately," said Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D), Laredo: "And if we do not have that kind of revenue available, then we have to look at other means to ensure we strive fo

"This is the worst year the students have ever had in the Texas legislature," said UT Student Body President, Brian Haley. "The senate and the house talk about no new taxes. The students of this state just got a new

Lawmakers also passed a massive transportation measure to increase funding mechanisms for building roads and fine habitually bad drivers to pay for trauma centers.

"We put $6 billion worth of new funding to transportation," said Rep. Mike Krusee (R), Round Rock: "And we gave unprecedented authority to local regions to take care of their own problems. Come up with their o

And the legislature took steps to cut down on frivolous lawsuits, including limits on damage awards against the medical community in malpractice cases.

"If you want to be on the side of our constituents, you vote against it," said Rep. Sylvester Turner (D), Houston: "And I would hope that tonight the people of Texas will win and insurance companies will come to understand, we want you here, but we do not want you

It took a literal last minute plea by the house's lead lawmaker on insurance to win approval of what had been designated an emergency issue by governor perry when the session began.

"It is a good effort, it is a valiant effort at trying to get insurance rates under control in the state of Texas," said Rep. John Smithee (R), Chairman House Ins. Comm. "What you can tell your constituents is, we're going to have fair and justifiable rates and we're going to have them very quickly after the governor si

Lawmakers also did the one thing they are required to do every session, pass a state budget.. This time, a record $117 billion dollar spending plan that relies on deep budget cuts and no new taxes to balance a record deficit.

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