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Posts under ‘Budget ballyhoo’

House Appropriations releases its budget outline

Better news for schools in this version. The House Appropriations Committee voted unanimously Thursday to boost funding for public schools by $2.5 billion in the next two-year budget period. Schools would get an additional $500 million in the current fiscal year, which ends Aug. 31, under a second proposal by Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts that […]

Why do we give tax breaks to country clubs?

As you know, I’ve talked before about sunsetting tax expenditures. Sens. John Carona and Rodney Ellis have filed a bill to require a periodic review of the many exemptions, exceptions, and other special cases in the tax code, with the aim of requiring legislative approval to renew or extend them. This is a good idea […]

Senate passes its budget

Let the damning with faint praise for this jerry-rigged excuse for not adequately funding our needs yet not eviscerating them as badly as last time begin. The Texas Senate approved a $195.5 billion two-year budget Wednesday, with Democratic state Sens. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth and Sylvia Garcia of Houston voting against the spending plan. […]

We have a budget

It is what it is. The 15 members of the Senate Finance Committee unanimously voted on Wednesday for a $195.5 billion two-year budget that undoes some of the cuts from the 2011 legislative session. The budget, which now heads to the full Senate, is 2.9 percent higher than the estimated size of the current two-year […]

Nine hundred million reasons why expanding Medicaid is a good idea

It’s all about the money. Expanding Medicaid could make available at least $900 million in state money that otherwise would be slated for health care as lawmakers work to pay for Texas’ priorities, according to an analysis released Tuesday. “More efficient health spending means there’s more money available for other needs like water and education,” […]

TSTA polls about public education

From the inbox, via the TSTA: A strong majority of Texas voters support using some of the $12 billion in the state’s Rainy Day Fund to restore the $5.4 billion cut from the public education budget two years ago, and the support is strong across party lines, a poll commissioned by the Texas State Teachers […]

More on sunsetting tax expenditures

I say again, this is a good idea that really needs to happen. The Texas tax code is rich with tax breaks. There are tax breaks for industries relocating to the state and for anyone with an Internet connection. Tax exemptions for groceries and bottled water. Tax holidays for back-to-school supplies. Tax exemptions for golf […]

Senate committee restores some money to public education

Emphasis on the “some”. Texas public schools would get back a chunk of the $5.4 billion in state funding they lost two years ago under a budget proposal adopted by the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday. But they probably should not expect much more than the $1.5 billion the committee added to the 2014-15 state […]

LBB calls for expanding Medicaid

From the Quorum Report: LBB CALLS FOR FUNDING MEDICAID EXPANSION AS PART OF ITS ADDITIONAL BUDGET PRIORITIES The recommendation given to the Article II Senate Finance workgroup notes that $50.4 million in state funding would draw down $4 billion in federal match for the next budget cycle The Legislative Budget Board has included funding to extend Medicaid coverage to […]

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 […]