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What's the cost for the special session?

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Posted at 10:13 PM, Jul 09, 2021

When lawmakers didn't finish their work during the regular session, the Governor called them back at our expense to get the job done.

You might compare a special session of the Texas Legislature to speed dating because everything's supposed to happen on a fast track. Perhaps a better analogy is a trip to the grocery store, you know, the one where we pick the shortest line and it takes the longest time to get out.

We all know there is no 'free lunch' not even at the Texas capitol where a tuna sandwich and drink goes for more than 5 bucks.

So bringing Texas lawmakers back here doesn't come cheap - news that's not lost on Chris Paez of Houston.

"What do I think about how much it's costing us to have all this? Well, I mean, as long as they get some work done. I think it's okay, because you can't have a word for free right ?" Paez asked.

And like grocery shopping, we all look for the best deals. That's why the special session is designed to get the most done in the least time.

"It is not like a regular session so the bill that we have filed is probably going to be the bill that we will deal with, with the exception that there may be a committee substitute. There may be amendments that may come from the floor," said Representative Hugh Shine, R-Temple.

So Governor Abbott's 11 item agenda has at least a chance of passing within the 30 day window.

"These are on a much faster course during the special. . . and all of those time frames that are in the Constitution that drive the regular session are all modified for the special session. So, it's like things move fast because they go into the ATP and go into the 10 items or less lane. Okay, well rather than waiting in line at McDonald's you get to go through the drive thru if you're the only car," Shine explained.

Now, even though we're cutting a corner or two, or moving a little faster, special session bills still get a substantial hearing.

There's long list of committee meetings scheduled... even for Saturday.

25news checked with the office of Texas Comptroller Glen Hegar, where we learned Texas expects to bring in 115 billion dollars between now and 2023. But a spokesman said, they don't deal with special session costs.

So we hiked up Congress.... crossed 15th to the offices of the Legislative Budget Board.

The Legislative Budget Board says lawmakers get $600 for the month, plus $221 per day. The six $600 is money they'd get anyway, kinda like keeping the lights on and housekeeping up and running. But $221 dollars a day is spending money that adds up.

With 31 Senators and 150 representatives, that's 181 people that earn 40 grand a day combined. And with 30 days of the special session it comes to a whopping $1,200,030.

"They should get the Democrats to pay for it."

And even though Democrats did help incur this expense when they walked out of the regular session, that just ain't gonna happen, according to Lionel Guerra of Kerrville.

They could help though if they worked faster and ended sooner.

Meantime what could Christopher Paez do with that kinda cash?

"A day? Yeah 221 a day. That's a lot. I could probably do a lot. . . I'll probably invest it," said Paez as his girlfriend cast him an angry look. "Uh....Oh wait! You can get a nice dinner."

So after two days of this special session apparently all lawmakers can agree on is when to knock off work, which is about noon time, people at the Texas capitol say whether the lawmakers worked five minutes or five hours, the meter keeps running. And we keep paying.