After Bill Falters, What’s Next for Water Funding in Texas?

DPA /LANDOV

While the plan for funding water has moved forward at the Capitol, last night the money for that plan seemed to stall.

Last night on the House floor, a major piece of legislation that would put $2 billion towards water projects in a growing, thirsty state met fierce resistance, ultimately falling victim to a legislative maneuver that effectively sank it.

While the legislation to create a water infrastructure bank that would give out loans for water development and conservation projects continues to move forward at the Capitol, the actual money for that bank (contained in separate legislation) proved to be a trickier issue Tuesday night.

KUT political reporter Ben Philpott sat down with StateImpact Texas’ Mose Buchele, who covered the hearing, to talk about what happened, and what happens next:

So what are some of the options left at this point?

  • SJR 1, a joint resolution already on its way to the House from the Senate that would allocate billions towards water, roads and education from the Rainy Day Fund if approved by voters at the ballot box in November. That could be a tough sell in the House, however.
  • HB 19, a bill by state Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, that would take $3.7 billion from the Rainy Day Fund and spend it on roads and water (it isn’t clear how it would be divvied up just yet). That bill has yet to pass out of committee, and a deadline approaches — it has to be out of committee  by Monday, May 6th.
  • HB 11, the bill by Rep. Allan Ritter, R-Nederland, that faced a contentious hearing last night and got kicked down, may live to see another day. But it would face the same hurdle as HB 19 — it has to be out of the committee next Monday.
  • Special Session: That option was brought up by Governor Rick Perry last week, when he said if his list of priority projects (which includes the water plan spending) wasn’t taken care of in the regular session, he’s willing to call a special session to see it through.

So while the water plan funding isn’t completely dead this session, it’s likely that if anything does get passed, it will be close to the finish line.

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