By ED STERLING
AUSTIN — Last week, the Senate Finance Committee began groundwork for its budget-writing duties with public hearings on four consecutive days. Led by Chairwoman Jane Nelson, R-Grapevine, the 15-member panel heard testimony from the offices of the governor, comptroller and attorney general. Input also was received on state pension funds, courts and payments on state debt. Currently, the budget is an estimated $4.5 billion for all of those “general government” functions
and an increase of $200 million has been proposed for 2016-2017.