AUSTIN The Senate approved bills

Friday aimed at balancing the state budget and reducing healthcare

costs in the state.

The first measure, SB 7 by Flower

Mound Senator Jane Nelson, would help the state achieve some of the

$3 billion in healthcare efficiency savings identified by a Senate

panel during the regular session. The bill would expand managed

care under Medicaid and implement fraud prevention, outcome-based

reimbursement models for providers, and a co-pay for non-emergency

services in the emergency room.

The Senate also passed SB 1, a bill

that uses deferrals and tax collection speedups to provide about $3

billion in new revenue, measures that are critical to balancing the

budget passed by the Legislature in the regular session. That bill

also lays out the plan for spreading out the $4 billion education

spending reduction over the next two years. SB 1 is almost

identical to the regular session's SB 1811, which died in the

Senate in the final days of the session and spurred Governor Perry

to call an immediate special session.

Perry added a new issue to the call

on Friday: reform legislation dealing with the Texas Windstorm

Insurance Association. This quasi-governmental organization is

virtually the only insurer for Texans living along the coast, and

Perry is unwilling to go through another hurricane season under the

current TWIA model. Negotiations over the issue broke down in the

waning days of the session, and Perry said then he would call

legislators back in July to deal with the issue. With the

Legislature already in town to deal with unresolved budget issues,

Perry can forgo a mid-summer special and ask lawmakers to try and

deal with the issue now.