Despite passing out of the Texas Senate over a month ago, a piece of conservative priority legislation may be dying in the Texas House.
Though the legislature must pass a balanced budget (meaning spending can be no greater than anticipated revenues), the state constitution and enacting statutes only limit the spending growth in certain areas. The net effect is that less than half of the total appropriated funds are subject to a cap.
SB 1891 seeks to fix this problem by including dedicated tax revenue into the total “consolidated general revenue appropriations.”
The result is a meaningful cap on state spending that, should it be passed into law, would curb out-of-control budgets like the ones passed this session. But while the Senate passed the bill on April 9 on a largely party-line vote, the bill has been languishing in the Texas House ever since.
On April 11, shortly after receiving the bill from the Senate, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen referred it to the Committee on Appropriations chaired by State Rep. John Zerwas (R–Richmond).
Since then, lawmakers have taken no further action on the bill, with leadership thus far refusing to even schedule the bill for consideration.
That could spell doom for strong state spending limits this session. The deadline for House committees to vote out Senate bills is this Saturday, May 18. And with rules requiring committee schedules to be laid out for five days, Zerwas would have to act fast to schedule a public hearing.
Of course, a public hearing is not required, and with similar legislation having been heard in previous sessions, it should be pretty clear by now who is on which side.
In any case, the clock is ticking for the bill to have a chance at reaching the House floor. Otherwise, Texas taxpayers will again be pushed aside by politicians in favor of bloated budgets and skyrocketing spending.
Both Bonnen and Zerwas did not respond to requests for comment. This article will be updated should they respond.