HB 5, a supplemental appropriations bill, passed the House Wednesday on an initial vote. After a second vote scheduled for Thursday, it will move to the Senate, with little time left in this special session (which can end no later than Sunday, Aug. 5) to make it through that chamber and to the governor’s desk.
HB 5 includes $701 million needed to fund the 13th check for TRS retirees, slated to be paid no later than January 2022. The bill authorizing the 13th check is already headed to Gov. Abbott, but the TRS Board cannot make the payments if the funding is not appropriated.
HB 5 also restores funding for the legislative branch that was vetoed by Abbott in June in order to gain leverage over lawmakers to pass his priority legislation in the summer special sessions. While the veto affected the budget for legislative branch employees beginning today, Sep. 1, a temporary measure was approved to extend funding through September.
It remains to be seen whether Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick will hold HB 5 (or its companion bill in the Senate, SB 11) hostage until other priority bills are passed. Talk in the Capitol earlier this week was that Patrick insisted that the House Public Education Committee pass both SB 2, the bill addressing transgender students’ participation in UIL athletic activities, and SB 3, the critical race theory bill, before he would allow the Senate to consider the supplemental appropriations bill. In a hearing on Tuesday, the committee approved SB 3, but a vote was not taken on SB 2.