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The heady days of the Texas Legislature's superiority in state budget writing seem to have come to a close in favor of giving the governor an unprecedented amount of power over how the state spends its money.
On April 14, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Senate Finance Committee Chairwoman Jane Nelson sent out a piece of correspondence that portends major changes for how the budget is written and how bills get passed next session — and probably forever:
"The Senate Finance Committee will be incorporating the principles of zero-based budgeting when drafting our state budget and for transparency purposes will be requesting supplemental programmatic level budget information."
This means that the Senate will file a bill in January 2017 with zeroes for all state agencies and that it will report a committee substitute in approximately April 2017 with line-item program budgets, not the broad — and largely veto-proof — strategy budgets of the last 25 years. This is the next step, technocratic as it is, in a major power change at the Capitol.
The governor never had it so good.