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Posts under ‘Budget ballyhoo’

Supplement this!

Time for the Lege to pay a few past-due bills from 2011. That’s where a supplemental budget comes in. It is literally a second budget added to the original one lawmakers approved in 2011. It’s not an unusual course for lawmakers to take to address lingering IOUs, but this year’s efforts are becoming more complicated […]

School districts are still a long way from getting relief

School districts may have gotten a favorable ruling in the latest school finance lawsuit, and if it survives appeal it could have far-reaching effects on the current system, but that doesn’t mean that things will get better for them now. If anything, they’re likely to get worse first. “It’s pretty bleak for next year,” said […]

Sunsetting tax expenditures

Sens. John Carona and Rodney Ellis have the right idea. Over the past 18 months, many of our constituents told us they have trouble finding a reliable, accurate and up-to-date source of information on these tax breaks, exemptions and special treatments — often called tax preferences or loopholes. Unfortunately, so do we. The Legislature makes […]

Yet another report saying we should expand Medicaid in Texas

It’s the fiscally responsible thing to do, in addition to being the morally correct thing to do. Expanding Medicaid is a “smart, affordable and fair” decision for Texas, according to a report issued by Billy Hamilton, a non-partisan consultant commissioned by Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas and Texas Impact, a statewide interfaith network. “If […]

Another reason why spending caps are a bad idea

There are many reasons why, but this is one we haven’t encountered before. Several political observers well-versed in the state’s finances say that lawmakers could hit the state’s spending limit this session, complicating efforts to access the $11.8 billion in the state’s Rainy Day Fund. The Texas Constitution says the government can’t grow faster than […]

One place where a little austerity would do some good

Rick Perry’s slush funds get no love in the opening budgets. The House and Senate’s initial two-year budgets would force Perry’s deal-closing Texas Enterprise Fund to exhaust its last $7 million and throttle back on state film incentives and subsidies for major sporting events. The Emerging Technology Fund, which subsidizes high-tech commercial ventures, would face […]

Here come the tax cut proposals

When the sunny revenue forecast came in, we immediately got one crappy tax cut idea, to eliminate the margins tax at a cost of $4.5 billion. The Texas Association of Business didn’t care for the idea, at least at first, but are now warming up to it, because this is what they do. For Bill […]

Meet the new budget

Same as the old budget. Republican leaders in both chambers of the Legislature on Monday offered spare first drafts of the state’s next two-year budget that continue $5.4 billion in cuts to public education made last session and freeze funding for an embattled state agency set up to find a cure for cancer. Upending recent […]

School finance dispatches

Some bad news for the state in the school finance lawsuit. State District Judge John Dietz directed state attorneys Wednesday to redo a key study that underestimated the funding advantages of higher-wealth school districts — a blow to the state’s arguments in a school finance lawsuit that current differences among districts are insignificant. Dietz asked […]

School Land Board votes to transfer $300 million to Available School Fund

From the Trib: The School Land Board voted Tuesday to release $300 million into the Available School Fund for public schools. The money will be released in two $150 million installments, one in February and the other on June. The funds had been caught in a standoff between the Legislature and the School Land Board, […]

The revenue estimate is in

And under normal circumstances it would be very good news. Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, laying out the parameters for state spending on the eve of the legislative session, said Monday that the rebounding Texas economy gives lawmakers $8.8 billion unallocated in state coffers for this budget period and an improving picture for the next two […]

What they’re saying about education

The Chron has a couple of stories focusing on area legislators and their priorities for 2013. There will be many new faces in the Lege and the Senate in this session, so the more we know about what these folks have in mind, the better. This story is about Pearland Rep. Ed Thompson (R, HD29) […]

So how’s public education doing under the Republicans?

Well, for starters, there’s larger class sizes. Northside’s predicament mirrors that of several other local districts with expanding enrollments. It’s part of the argument hundreds of Texas districts are making in an ongoing school finance lawsuit against the state, blaming lawmakers for a funding scheme that doesn’t keep up with growth. Administrators say larger classes […]

When is a surplus not a surplus?

When any extra money you might have is already accounted for, due to unaddressed needs, accounting shenanigans, and shortsighted cuts. Some lawmakers and budget experts expect to have as much as $8 billion to $9 billion more in general revenue in this fiscal period, which ends Aug. 31. Some are guessing lower. Combs will give […]

Two minus five is still less than zero

It’s nice that Speaker Joe Straus wants to restore public education funding, but let’s be clear about what that means. Texas House Speaker Joe Straus said Friday he’s committed to pumping billions of dollars back into the state’s public schools, even though the Legislature approved historically deep cuts just last year. In an interview with […]

How the so-called “fiscal cliff” might affect Texas

There is of course a very simple way to avoid this. If President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans cannot avoid tripping off the edge of the so-called fiscal cliff, then the Texas budget could be more than $1 billion short over the next two years. But fewer federal dollars flowing through the state budget would […]

It’s drug testing all the way down

Looks like the urinalysis industry in this state is going to get a big stimulus package next year, at least if the Republicans get their way. As top state leaders push to drug-test some Texans seeking jobless benefits and financial assistance, critics suggest the initiative would single out the powerless and hurt their children. It’s […]

It’s all about 2014

This is very easy to understand. Signaling austerity despite improving state revenues and a push by some to undo cuts to key programs, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and leading GOP senators said they plan to write a budget for the next two years that is smaller than allowed under a spending cap adopted Thursday. The […]

Fee for all

Fees are part of the answer for Texas’ pressing infrastructure needs, but they aren’t and cannot be the whole solution. To help keep the Texas business climate robust, lawmakers should double state fees on motor vehicle registrations and impose a new fee on every water meter in the state, the state’s largest business lobbying group […]

The Lege is going to have to spend some money

Whether they want to or not, there are a lot of issues that will be demanding attention and money from the Legislature when they convene in January. For example, there’s water. House Speaker Joe Straus said Friday the state’s water supply will be among his priorities after years of inaction by lawmakers. In the previous […]

It’s usually a bad idea to bet on any kind of overhaul in the Lege

I agree that it’s a sucker’s bet to think that the Lege will try to fix Texas’ tax code in any meaningful way. Nobody likes having to take votes that may later be used as clubs against them in a campaign, and the lobbyists swarm like no other time when someone’s tax break is on […]

Cutting spending is always good for job creation

It must be true. A study by the University of Texas at San Antonio estimated that 20 counties in the Eagle Ford Shale supported 47,097 full-time jobs in 2011, a number that’s expected to grow to 116,972 full-time jobs by 2021. For now, many of the jobs in demand are for truckers. And a pay […]

No, we can’t eliminate the property tax

The latest wingnut economic fantasy is that we can completely eliminate the property tax and replace it with an increased sales tax. Debra Medina was a champion of this during the 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary, which should give you some idea of where this lies on the spectrum of mainstream policies. Former Deputy Comptroller Billy […]

Land Board throws the Lege a curveball on school finance

Oops. In the waning days of the 82nd Legislature, state lawmakers came up with a plan to help cushion the blow of $5.4 billion in cuts to public education. State Rep. Rob Orr, R-Burleson, proposed a constitutional amendment that he said could bring an additional $300 million to public schools. It unanimously cleared both the […]

The working poor are pretty much screwed in Texas

These are the people that Rick Perry doesn’t care about. Jose Gallegos’ company eliminated employee health insurance to save money, so when his gut started hurting and his skin took on a yellow tinge, he resisted seeing a doctor. When he finally went to the emergency room, physicians diagnosed stomach cancer. Gallegos made too much […]

What will the excuse for austerity be now?

We’re in the money, as it were. Comptroller Susan Combs on Wednesday released updated details of how much money Texas is expected to collect in taxes and fees in fiscal year 2013, which begins on Sept. 1. The report, prepared as Texas seeks $9.8 billion in short-term loans, indicated that the state will bring in […]

Medicaid expansion: Not as expensive as the state claimed it would be

Remember last year when the state Health and Human Services Commission claimed that Medicaid expansion would cost the state of Texas $27 billion over ten years, causing every Republican in the state to have a fainting spell and a hissy fit about how that would bankrupt us all? Turns out that estimate was a wee […]

TAB takes a hostage

Can’t say I’m surprised by this tactic. Leaders in the business community said Wednesday that they would not stand for increased funding for education if it came with any rollback of accountability standards in Texas public schools. “If we are going to remain competitive in the world’s market, we are going to have to have […]

MyPlates doing well

Good for them. Specialty license plates sales have generated $10.5 million for the state’s general revenue fund so far, and the program will likely exceed the $25 million five-year-contract guarantee from My Plates, a marketing company that provides Texans more custom license plate choices. My Plates has sold more than 98,000 new plates and renewals […]

Revenues rise, but reality recognition doesn’t

Good news and bad news, because we can’t have one without the other. The latest bit of positive fiscal news came Tuesday when the state comptroller released numbers showing that business tax collections in Texas had exceeded projections. Comptroller Susan Combs had estimated that the franchise tax paid by businesses would bring in about $4 […]

Rick Perry’s vision for women’s health in Texas

More talk than action, and the numbers don’t add up. Are we surprised? Texas health officials have delivered a proposal to the federal government that outlines their plans for transitioning the Women’s Health Program from a program primarily supported by federal funds to one that runs on state money. They want the federal government to […]

Perry’s budget suicide pact

I have four things to say about this. Borrowing a tactic from national anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, Gov. Rick Perry used a tax day appearance in Houston to propose a no-new-taxes pledge for Texas lawmakers, a pledge that would, in his words, “lead to a stronger Texas.” […] Perry laid out a five-part Texas Budget […]

Early Childhood Intervention

When we say that the budget was balanced on the backs of children and the poor, this is the sort of thing we’re talking about. Lawmakers last year slashed funding for the statewide [Early Childhood Intervention] program by 14 percent. The reductions come at a time when demand for services is increasing and children’s needs […]

Just keep cutting till we tell you to stop

I have two things to say about this. Looking to get an early start on shaping budget discussions for the 2013 legislative session, the Texans for a Conservative Budget Coalition recommended Tuesday that lawmakers plan to reduce welfare spending, increase local control for public school districts, and consolidate or eliminate general revenue spending for several […]