This past week, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick announced which legislators will participate in the conference committee on HB 1, the State Budget for the next biennium. These conferees will have the final say on what is included and what is excluded from the budget. Conference committees are intended to resolve differences between the Senate version of the budget and the House version.
The conferees are as follows:
- House Conferees
- Chair, Rep. Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood)
- Rep. Mary González (D-El Paso)
- Rep. Jacey Jetton (R-Richmond)
- Rep. Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston)
- Rep. Armando Walle (D-Houston)
- Senate Conferees
- Chair, Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston)
- Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe)
- Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham)
- Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville)
- Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown)
Despite the fact that Democrats make up over a third of the Senate, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick did not include any Democrats on the conference committee.
The House version of the budget passed two weeks ago did not have language guaranteeing across-the-board raises for educators, but it did include language prohibiting public education dollars from being sent to private schools in the form of vouchers. The senate version contained no such provision. Additionally, both versions of the budget allocate funding to bills that may or may not pass this session, so much of the budget is still in flux.
After conferees resolve the issues in the budget, it will be sent back to both the House and the Senate for final approval. After this, the budget will be sent to the governor to sign.
These conferences will be crucial in determining what the final version of the state budget will look like and whether it will include money for educator raises or for private school vouchers. These conferees need to hear from you. Send them a quick e-letter. It only takes a few seconds to make your voice heard.