House OKs fund­ing ther­apy for dis­abled chil­dren,

Bill to re­store tens of mil­lions must now clear Se­nate.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Johnathan Sil­ver jsil­ver@states­

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.

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