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Monday, January 10, 2011

INTENSE LEGISLATIVE SESSION CONVENES TOMORROW

The 2011 Texas Legislature gavels to the start of its 140-day session tomorrow. It will be 140 very difficult days for medicine — plus some likely difficult special sessions. The $20-billion-plus budget shortfall will put huge pressures on lawmakers to cut Medicaid, medical education, and public health programs. Hospitals, trial lawyers, and nonphysician practitioners all will be gunning for medicine. “We have a plan,” says TMA President Sue Bailey, MD. “But we need your help.” For an in-depth look at our plan, download Caring for Patients in a Time of Change and read our 16 legislative issue briefs. To find out how you can help, watch Dr. Bailey’s video. While legislative sessions usually get off to a slow start, the next two days will prove crucial. Here’s why:


  • This morning, Comptroller Susan Combs presented her official biennial revenue estimate. That number tells legislators they need about $4.3 billion to balance the rest of the 2010-11 budget. While the state economy, and tax collections, have begun to pick back up, observers say Comptroller Combs’ revenue estimate leaves lawmakers in a $26.8 billion hole to maintain current state services for the 2012-13, two-year, budget.
  • The most important piece of business after tomorrow’s swearing-in ceremonies will be the selection of the next speaker of the House of Representatives. Current Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) faces challenges from two members of his own party — Reps. Warren Chisum of Pampa and Ken Paxton of McKinney — who say he isn’t conservative enough. The GOP holds a 101-49 edge in the House.

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