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The Texas House on Wednesday gave the first deal to legislation that, among other things, will restore funding to the salaries and benefits of 2,100 employees in the legislative branch after Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed those dollars in the next state budget.
The legislation, House Bill 5, will need another seal of approval in the House before it goes to the Senate, which has not yet debated its version of the proposal in the House.
The bill, passed by House Endowment President Greg Bonnen, R-Friendswood, as approved, would restore approximately $ 316 million to Article X of the 2022-23 state budget, which funds the legislature and various legislative bodies such as the Legislative Reference Library and the Blackboard Legislative Budget. Abbott vetoed those dollars earlier this year as retribution after House Democrats left the House in the last hours of the regular legislative session that ended in May to block a party election bill. Republican. The veto did not affect lawmakers, whose salaries are constitutionally protected.
HB 5 would also add dollars for the next biennium to other issues on Abbott’s special session agenda, including $ 90 million from the Department of Family and Family Protection Services to help combat the Abbott crisis. foster care from the state and more than $ 17 million to the Department of Information Resources. increase state cybersecurity efforts.
According to HB 5, the additional funding would also be used to address other issues. The Texas teacher retirement system, for example, would receive more than $ 700 million for the biennium to help implement a one-time payment for retired teachers, counselors and other school staff members, provided the legislature approves this complementary proposal during the special. session and becomes law.
After Abbott vetoed legislative funding, the governor included restoring those dollars in both his first and second special sessions. But plans to pass legislation related to the issue during the first round of overtime were derailed after House Democrats broke the quorum for the second time to prevent the passage of this bill on the elections. Republican Party.
Funding for the legislature was due to run out on Sept. 1, when the next two-year budget will take effect, but Abbott and other Republican leaders announced earlier this month that they had secured a month of funding. additional, buying the legislature time to restore them. dollars.
A group of Democrats and state employees argued that Abbott’s veto was an unconstitutional exaggeration of the executive branch and asked the Texas Supreme Court to overturn Abbott’s veto. But the Republican court denied that request, writing in its opinion that “this political dispute within the legislature is not a matter of separation of powers that we can decide.”
During the second special session, a House bill specifically related to legislative funding was passed unanimously by the committee, but has not yet spoken for debate. Its complementary legislation in the Senate has also not yet been debated by the plenary chamber.
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