State Sen. Steve Ogden is telling the press today that a special session focused on the budget is in the cards. Sounds like someone may be giving up rather than getting down to work. We should expect more from the Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
A special session would be a pointless, and expensive, exercise. Those session cost a couple million dollars to hold – a couple million that could be better spent in the classroom than feeding the insatiable appetite of big-spenders.
In fact, a special session on the state’s budget is wholly unnecessary: legislators just need to pass a budget that lives within the taxpayers’ means before sine die.
Sen. Ogden (R-Bryan) moved out of his committee a budget that spends more than the House. He also has shepherded legislation through his committee that amounts to a raid on the rainy day fund, rather than focus on current-biennium spending.
Clearly, Mr. Ogden wasn’t paying close enough attention to what the taxpayers were saying in November.
House members apparently understood the message from November. They passed a budget living within the taxpayers’ means. It may not have been pretty, but they did the job.
With all that said, the Senate (despite spending a little too much) passed a budget with a slightly better prioritization. Everything I’ve heard from House members is that they are happy to fix the prioritization – they just want a budget that doesn’t spend more than the taxpayers can afford.
The House members -– especially Speaker Joe Straus and Appropriations Committee chairman Jim Pitts -– seem committed to getting the budget done in the regular course of business. So do many of the conservative senators.
If the regular session ends without a budget, it will be a failure of Senate leadership. Read that carefully: If Texas taxpayers have to foot the bill for a special session, because the budget isn’t done, the fault will be not with House members or even most Republican senators. If true, it will be a failure of Senate leadership.