Highlights from the Texas Legislature

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The Texas House has approved a three-point-four (B) billion-dollar expansion of the state business tax.

The House approved the measure by an 80-to-69 vote late last night.

The plan is the cornerstone of Republican Governor Rick Perry's efforts to overhaul how the state pays for its public education system.

Perry's plan would give Texas property owners an initial one-third tax break by raising alternate funds from an expanded business tax, a one-dollar-a-pack increase in the cigarette tax and some money from the state's budget surplus.

The plan is Perry's attempt to answer a Texas Supreme Court ruling that declared the state's school funding system unconstitutional and ordered it fixed by June First.


Republican Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, who presides over the Senate, said he hoped the House passed all five tax bills it was considering. If those pieces of legislation pass the House, they go to the Senate. Dewhurst said he planned to meet yesterday with senators to discuss the effect each bill would have on state revenue.

"Once you do that, it becomes very, very obvious that in order to do what we told the people of Texas we need to do, the House needs to send us all five bills and they need to be balanced," Dewhurst said.

Dewhurst said again that he wants property taxes lowered by a third, a broad-based business tax and more money for schools.