AUSTIN -- The Senate on Monday approved using part of the state's Economic Stabilization Fund to cover current biennial deficits.
The body agreed to use $3.973 billion, or less than half, of what is commonly called the Rainy Day Fund. This money will free up funds for next biennium as lawmakers try and reach a compromise between the House and Senate versions of the bill.
Finance Committee Chair and chief Senate budget negotiator Steve Ogden of Bryan said that the two chambers have agreement on most of the budget, save public education funding. While he hasn't yet given up hope that the House and Senate can come together and agree on an amount to fund education in the budget, Ogden said after Monday's session that he thinks a special session on the public education portions of the budget is likely.
Other measures passed by the Senate Monday include:
• SB 555, by Watson, which would increase state oversight on utilities provided through the use of communal propane tanks;
• HB 1123, by West, which would enhance penalties for professional sports agents for violating rules governing interactions between agents and student-athletes;
• HB 34, by Shapiro, which would create high-school curriculum for students to teach them how to obtain financial aid and other ways to pay for college;
• HB 27, by Ellis, would permit those convicted of certain misdemeanor crimes to pay fines and court costs in installments, if approved by a judge.