Note even the Lone Star State has been spared the national scourge in huge budget deficits.
Lawmakers in Texas have unveiled a new state budget that will eliminate $31-billion in spending in order to close the state's budget, which is estimated to be as high as $27-billion.
Despite having a fairly strong economy (buffeted by its huge oil and gas industries) that has been spared the worst excesses of the recession, Texas cannot escape the drops in revenue that so many other states have suffered. The state comptroller projects that Texas would have about $72 billion in general revenue available for this fiscal 2012-13 budget, a $10-billion decline from two years ago.
The spending cuts will be particularly hard on Texas’ education sector.
Under the plan, spending on public education will be slashed by 13 percent, while spending on higher education will be cut by 7.6 percent.
In addition, funding for pre-kindergarten “Early Start” programs would be reduced and four community colleges will shut down. Also, about 60,000 students would lose financial aid for college.
Spending on health, human services and government services would see funding decline by almost 25 percent.
The new budget envisions the elimination of almost 9300 government jobs while Medicaid providers would suffer a 10 percent reduction in rates.
Funding to help for the defense of poor people in court would fall by 15 percent; while the state agency that supervises paroles would see its spending support slip by 21 percent.
Legislators were dissuaded from raising taxes by Republican Party leaders, and they also did not touchthe state’s $9.4-billion projected “rainy day fund.”
The budget is being assailed by virtually all sides of the political spectrum.
We already know that the cuts-only approach taken in the proposed bill would hurt Texas families, cost us jobs, and undermine our economy recovery, said F. Scott McCown, executive director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities. With a revenue shortfall this large, as the proposed budget shows, the Legislature cannot balance the budget through cuts alone without doing terrible damage.
However, others praise the budget as a necessary bitter pill.
Texas families have had to set priorities and make difficult decisions in order to live within their means, said Talmadge Heflin, director of the Center for Fiscal Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. The introduced budget is a positive sign that the Texas Legislature is committed to doing likewise.