Vol 32, Issue 27 Print Issue

House Appropriations Chairmen, Through the Years

Rep. John Otto R-Dayton on May 29, 2015 holds budget binder on his lap
Rep. John Otto R-Dayton on May 29, 2015 holds budget binder on his lap

Correction appended.

John Otto made waves this week with his announcement that he won't seek re-election to the Texas House next year.

In making that decision, the Dayton Republican ensured that his one term as head of the powerful House Appropriations Committee this session will be his only one.

His announcement also got us thinking over here. Is Otto the norm in serving just the one term as the House's chief budget writer? Or is he an outlier?

The answer to both questions would seem to be yes, depending on how you frame things.


Looking back over the last 35 legislative sessions, 10 of the 15 men to serve as Appropriations chairmen served in just one session. But it's become increasingly common among more recent chairmen to serve long tenures.

Of the past seven chairmen, more than half of those served over multiple sessions.

Here's the full list with the sessions served by each chairman. In some instances, more than one chairman served during a single session, and that is reflected in our tally:

Claud Henry Gilmer — 1 (50th)

Ray Kirkpatrick — 1 (51st)

Willard (William) Rampy — 1 (52nd)

Max C. Smith — 3 (53rd, 54th and 55th)

W.S. "Bill" Heatly — 6 (56th, 58th, 59th, 60th, 61st and 62nd)


James Cotten — 1 (57th)

Bill Finck — 1 (62nd)

Neil Caldwell — 1 (63rd)

Bill Presnal — 5 (64th, 65th, 66th, 67th and 68th)

Jim D. Rudd — 5 (68th, 69th, 70th, 71st and 72nd)

Robert Junell — 5 (73rd, 74th, 75th, 76th, and 77th)

Talmadge Heflin — 1 (78th)

Jim Pitts — 5 (78th, 79th, 81st, 82nd and 83rd)

Warren Chisum — 1 (80th)

John Otto — 1 (84th)

Correction: Due to an error in the reference material, Doyle Willis was mistakenly listed as a chairman. His name has been removed and the copy and graph have been updated.