The state budget continues to move through the legislative process, passing out of the full Senate Tuesday on a unanimous vote.

As in the committee hearing, some senators during the floor debate questioned why anticipated federal funds are not included in the budget for public education (see related information here). State leaders have not yet determined how to handle the billions of dollars (around $17 billion) that should come to Texas schools as a result of the two most recent COVID relief packages passed by Congress.

Some legislators would like to ensure that they have input into how those funds will be distributed and spent, but if the legislature is not in session, a very small group of leaders may be making those decisions. One bill that is scheduled for a hearing on Wednesday — HB 2021 — would give that authority to the lieutenant governor, House speaker, Senate Finance chair and vice-chair, and House Appropriations chair and vice-chair.

The budget bill will now move to the House, which is poised to move quickly to substitute its own version. Differences between the two versions will eventually be negotiated via a conference committee of House and Senate members.