Cap on state government spending runs into trouble

A bill to cap state government spending, a long-cherished goal for conservative Republicans and one of Gov. Abbott’s 20 special session priorities, ran into trouble Saturday night on the Texas House floor.

A point of order, raised by Democratic Rep. Chris Turner of Grand Prairie, halted consideration of House Bill 208 when Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, confirmed that the written bill analysis did not accurately describe the bill’s contents, a violation of House rules.

Rep. Matt Rinaldi, R-Irving, objected, saying he had the required 12 signatures of House members to challenge the ruling, setting up a floor vote on whether to sustain the point of order.

SCORECARD: Where Gov. Abbott’s 20 special session priorities stand

“This is one of the most important bills we’re dealing with this session, fiscally,” Rinaldi said, noting that the bill would allow spending to increase only to keep pace with inflation and population growth.

But Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, said the transparency rule was in place to allow lawmakers and the public to understand the contents of bills. The bill’s author, Rep. Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound, had been told of the problem but did not return the bill to the Appropriations Committee so the inaccurate analysis could be fixed, Geren added.

The chair’s ruling was upheld on a 70-52 vote, and HB 208 was returned to the Appropriations Committee, which met late Saturday in an effort to bring a similar measure, Senate Bill 9, to the floor for a vote late Sunday night or, more likely, on Monday.

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