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Education Spending Still Stumping Legislature

Education spending could push lawmakers into special session this summer

Tuesday, May 17, 2011  |  Updated 12:44 AM CDT
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Education Spending Still Stumping Legislature

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Spending on education, particularly public school funding formulas, could push the Legislature into a special session over the summer.

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Texas House and Senate negotiators have reached a compromise on almost all parts of the next two-year state budget, leaving the biggest chunk of spending -- education -- left to be solved.

Lawmakers need to reach an agreement on the spending plan before the session adjourns on May 30. The votes late Monday showed significant progress, though much work remains. Spending on education, particularly public school funding formulas, could push the Legislature into a special session over the summer.

Sen. Steve Ogden, the Senate's lead budget writer, said he hopes an agreement on education can be reached by the end of the week. But legislation on how to rework the funding formulas appears to have stalled. Other legislation that could impact the amount of money available to spend is scheduled for consideration this week.

Budget analysts said the agreement reached Monday makes improvements to Medicaid provider reimbursements, including those to nursing homes, but is short by almost $5 billion to fund projected growth in Medicaid.

The compromise covered dozens of aspects of state government, including funding for roads, courts, prisons and foster care.

It was unclear how much would be spent in the agreement because, "we haven't added it up yet," Rep. Jim Pitts, the House budget leader, said shortly after the committee adjourned.

Monday's meeting was the first public meeting of the 10-member panel, which includes two Democrats.

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