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State Lawmakers Wrap Up Budget Agreement, Weekend Vote Expected

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A woman takes a photo of the Texas Senate chamber during the 82nd Legislative session. (credit: Ben Sklar/Getty Images)

A woman takes a photo of the Texas Senate chamber during the 82nd Legislative session. (credit: Ben Sklar/Getty Images)

AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – The last pieces of the next two-year state budget is finally coming together, but funding it will still take some work.

The budget conference committee met Monday and wrapped up unfinished business on public schools, higher education and some general government issues. The committee should have the full budget deal approved by Thursday, setting up a weekend vote by the full House and Senate.

Final details were not yet available, but public schools will get about $37 billion in state money for general operations. While more than expected, it still means a significant cut to public schools.

There is a portion of the budget that calls for the salaries of top Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) officials to be studied and possibly given raises.

Representative Sylvester Turner (D-Houston) doesn’t support the raises; saying if teachers aren’t getting more money TxDOT officials shouldn’t either. “I think the premise behind this rider is that in order to get capable and competent people you need to pay them what they’re worth. The same thing holds true for teachers,” he said.

Senator Tommy Williams (R-Woodlands), says the Senate isn’t in favor of dropping teachers salaries as Turner suggests the House might do. “We don’t want to lower salaries of teachers and we haven’t done that on the Senate side.”

Bills to fund the budget are still in the process, meaning anything could happen. One is in conference committee; another is due a House vote today.

Last week, state leaders said they’d agreed on budgeting $80.6 billion for the 2012-2013 spending plan.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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