Senate budget conferees appointed

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Monday afternoon named the five senators who will attempt to negotiate a state budget compromise with the House. They include four Republicans – Steve Ogden of Bryan, Jane Nelson of Flower Mound, Tommy Williams of The Woodlands and Robert Duncan of Lubbock, all of whom voted for the Senate budget – and one Democrat, Juan Hinojosa of McAllen, who voted against it.

The Senate budget would cut $4 billion from public education over the next two years, and the House bill would slash $8 billion from the public schools. Neither version of the bill (House Bill 1) would fully fund the school finance formulas nor meet enrollment growth. And, each would result in thousands of educators losing their jobs and thousands of students being jammed into overcrowded classrooms.

The House conferees, appointed last week by Speaker Joe Straus, are Republicans Jim Pitts of Waxahachie, John Zerwas of Simonton, John Otto of Dayton and Myra Crownover of Lake Dallas and Democrat Sylvester Turner of Houston. All but Turner voted for the education-cutting House bill. 

The conferees now will try to negotiate a budget compromise before the session ends on May 30. Since both versions of the bill make crippling cuts in the public schools, TSTA is urging members to call the conferees and other legislators and demand that they throw out both the House and Senate budget plans and start over.