House OKs funding therapy for disabled children,
Bill to restore tens of millions must now clear Senate.
The Texas House on Friday unanimously approved a bill that would restore tens of millions of dollars in funding for therapy services for children with disabilities. Now the legislation heads to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future.
House Bill 25, by Rep. Sarah Davis, R-West University Place, would take about $70 million from a disaster relief fund held by Gov. Greg Abbott’s office. It also would spend more than $90 million in federal funds toward funding services.
The vote sends a strong, bipartisan message to Abbott to expand the special session agenda to include the issue. But Abbott spokesman John Wittman on Friday reiterated the governor’s previously stated position: He’s happy to consider other items only after his 20 priorities pass both chambers.
It is unlikely the Legislature will pass all 20 items. With less than two weeks remaining in the session, no bill has reached Abbott’s desk.
For the second time, lawmakers rejected a proposal to pay for the bill using the state’s rainy day fund.
“It pains me as a coastal member to support something that takes money from disaster relief, which I am pretty darn confident the governor doesn’t support, either. But I also know that we have only those options available,” Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, said. “And that the one thing we do agree on is that we want to fund these children. And so this is not an argument or a fight or a debate about whether we care about these children. It is an argument about how we fund the children we altogether care about.” Contact Johnathan Silver at 512-445-3631.