Conferees approve new state budget

House and Senate conferees on Thursday formally approved House Bill 1, the state budget for 2012-2013, which cuts $4 billion from the public schools and billions from health care and other services, while leaving $6 billion of the Rainy Day Fund unspent.

TSTA President Rita Haecker, in a statement to the media, said the budget was the worst budget for public education in at least 27 years and was a “shameful disservice to the school children and taxpayers of Texas.” (Click here to read the full release.)

The bill now goes to the full House and Senate for anticipated votes over the weekend, probably on Saturday.

House and Senate negotiators reportedly were nearing agreement on a school finance plan for distributing the $4 billion in cuts among school districts. 

Failure to reach a school finance agreement could force a special session this summer. Other issues threatening to result in a special session included a dispute over windstorm insurance legislation and lawmakers’ failure to enact a new congressional redistricting plan.

Meanwhile, in other action on Thursday, the House accepted Senate amendment to HB968 by Mark Strama and Kirk Watson, expanding the offenses for which a student can be expelled from school or placed in a disciplinary alternative education program to include aggravated robbery. The bill now goes to the governor.