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Posts Tagged ‘budget’

The Harvey effect on the state budget

You know what the solution to this is, right? Senate leaders warned Tuesday that Hurricane Harvey could put a billion-dollar hole in Texas’ budget, an ever-growing number that could affect how much money is available for other state programs. Only $20 million remains in the state disaster-assistance fund, Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson said […]

Houston’s health care costs

Because dealing with pensions wasn’t enough. Taxpayers also face a $2.1 billion liability for retiree health care costs in the coming decades, and Houston – like many state and local governments – has not set aside a penny to pay for those promises. This burden is the city’s “next major long-term fiscal challenge,” according to […]

Texas v the feds, disaster recovery funding edition

This would be quite entertaining to watch, if the stakes weren’t so high. Texas Republicans on Friday panned the White House’s latest disaster aid request, with Gov. Greg Abbott calling it “completely inadequate” for the state’s needs in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. President Donald Trump’s administration was quick to respond, calling on the state […]

By the way, CHIP is still running out

Just in case you were wondering. Advocates say Texas will run out of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program sooner than they thought. The program, which Congress failed to reauthorize last month, covers nearly 400,000 children from working-class families in the state. “It’s expected that Texas will run out of CHIP funding in January,” […]

Another property tax rate dustup

I have four things to say about this: Mayor Sylvester Turner plans to ask city council on Wednesday to sidestep the voter-imposed revenue cap by approving the same property tax rate as last year. According to City Controller Chris Brown, the city would need to cut the property tax rate by about one fifth of […]

The lost Harvey tax break

I have mixed feelings about this. Owners of nearly 300,000 homes damaged by Hurricane Harvey in Texas won’t see any break in their property taxes because of political wrangling this year in the state Legislature over completely unrelated issues – including, one Houston Republican says, the bathroom bill. A property tax reform bill that would […]

HFD and disaster preparedness

There’s a lot here to think about, and to do something about. The Houston Fire Department’s limitations quickly became clear as Harvey’s floodwaters rose. Just one high-water rescue vehicle. Decades-old evacuation boats. Sparse training for swift-water rescues. And limited staffing after an 11th-hour decision not to call in major reinforcements to face the catastrophic storm. […]

Harris County considers its budget post-Harvey

They have some choices, and some constraints. Harris County government departments could see their budgets reduced by up to 5 percent as property taxes take an expected dip due to Hurricane Harvey’s widespread destruction. The estimate is preliminary, County Budget Officer Bill Jackson said Friday. The extent of an anticipated decrease in property tax revenues […]

Mayor Turner lowers tax rate hike amount

I’m sure we’re all glad to see this. Mayor Sylvester Turner on Wednesday said the temporary property tax rate hike he has proposed would be cut in half after federal officials approved his request to increase reimbursement for the city’s Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. Turner earlier this month had pitched an 8.9 percent increase for […]

Mayor seeks one-year tax hike for Harvey cleanup

This stuff isn’t going to pay for itself, you know. Mayor Sylvester Turner will ask City Council to approve an 8.9 percent hike in the city’s tax rate this fall to help Houston recover from Tropical Storm Harvey, in what would be the first tax rate hike from City Hall in more than two decades. […]

The case for calling a Harvey special session

Rep. Gene Wu disagrees with Greg Abbott’s decision. The historic level of damage and suffering caused by Harvey requires that we tap into our state’s Rainy Day Fund. Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to not call a special session of the Texas Legislature to access emergency funding will worsen the long-term economic effects of one of […]

No special session needed to address Harvey flooding

So says Greg Abbott. Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday another special session of the Texas Legislature won’t be necessary to deal with the response to Hurricane Harvey. “We won’t need a special session for this,” Abbott told reporters, noting that the state has enough resources to “address the needs between now and the next session.” […]

This is why you don’t politicize disaster relief, Senator

It’s pretty simple, really. People come before politics. Many New Yorkers and New Jerseyans serving in Congress have, for nearly five years now, kept a list of names handy to roll out at a moment’s notice. They call it “the Comeuppance Caucus.” For some, the list is on a physical paper or bookmarked on a […]

Firefighters turn in their petitions

Good for them, but boy is this thing a train wreck. Houston firefighters delivered over 32,000 signatures to City Hall Monday in support of putting a ballot initiative on the November election mandating parity in pay between firefighter and police-officer ranks. […] “This petition drive was necessary because Houston firefighters are at a breaking point,” […]

What West Texas can do to improve their schools

Here’s an op-ed from the Statesman about one educator in West Texas who has had enough. My hero this week is Graydon Hicks, Fort Davis superintendent of schools. A West Texas publication published his open letter to Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick raking them over the coals for “the lack of positive […]

The DPS two-step

First, there was this. Despite a two-year budget of $2.4 billion, the Texas Department of Public Safety, with little notice, has reduced office hours at 11 of the state’s busiest driver’s license offices and plans to lay off more than 100 full-time employees to deal with a $21 million funding crunch. The statewide police agency’s […]

Council passes the 2017-18 budget

With a bit of drama along the way. City Council voted to boost funding for a controversial program that helps district council members tackle neighborhood projects Wednesday, even as it approved an annual budget from which one police cadet class and up to 75 employees’ jobs already had been trimmed. Mayor Sylvester Turner blasted the […]

Budget passes

The Legislature’s one mandated duty has been completed. Both chambers of the Texas Legislature voted Saturday evening to approve a $217 billion, two-year budget that would boost funding for the state’s beleaguered child welfare agency, increase the number of state troopers on the Texas-Mexico border and avoid serious reforms to the state’s much-criticized school finance […]

No changes to HISD magnet programs

Not this year, anyway. Houston ISD Superintendent Richard Carranza this week withdrew a plan to deeply cut funding for the district’s magnet programs over the next three years, shelving a proposal that had angered parents and some school board members who consider the specialized academic programs to be jewels in an oft-troubled school system. The […]

Budget deal reached

The one bill that must get passed is on its way. After months of private squabbling and public threats of a legislative overtime session, the Texas House and Senate finally compromised to unveil a joint budget late Saturday. Lawmakers, scrounging for cash in a tight-fisted legislative session, agreed to dip into the state’s savings account […]

Mayor Turner’s second budget

It’s about what you’d expect. With pension reform in sight, Mayor Sylvester Turner on Tuesday proposed a combination of departmental cuts, one-time fixes, deferred payments and a dip into city reserves to close next year’s $123 million budget gap. Turner aims to erase the deficit with $51 million in spending cuts – largely from police […]

One last look at the recapture re-vote

There’s a lot at stake here, and not a whole lot of people voting on it. For the second time in seven months, voters within the Houston Independent School District will determine how – and if – it should pay tens of millions to help subsidize districts that collect little in property taxes. The vote […]

House approves bill to kill margins tax

Dumb. The Texas House on Thursday approved a proposal that would phase out an unpopular business tax that provides funding for public schools. The proposal by state Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, would not reduce the state’s franchise tax during the current penny-pinching legislative session, but it would do so in future years. Under Bonnen’s bill, […]

House passes school finance reform bill

Well done. State Rep. Dan Huberty succeeded at a difficult task Wednesday: getting the Texas House of Representatives to vote for legislation overhauling the funding system for public education, without a court mandate. After a four-hour discussion of more than 30 proposed amendments, the House voted 134-16 to tentatively accept its top education leader’s plan […]

One more thing about vouchers

I’m going to enjoy this just a little bit more. The Texas House of Representatives all but killed Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s prized school choice bill Thursday, dealing the powerful Republican a major loss as he struggles to push his agenda through this year’s legislative session. House members considering the state’s budget plan for the […]

Senate passes its budget

It’s the one bill that has to pass. The Texas Senate unanimously approved a two-year budget on Tuesday that would shift nearly $2 billion in public education costs from the state to local taxpayers. The Senate’s $218 billion document now goes to budget writers in the House for debate. “This is a lean budget, but […]

Who loves budget gimmicks?

The Senate Budget Committee, that’s who. Texas Senate budget writers on Wednesday unanimously approved their two-year budget, which avoided some steep cuts by using an accounting trick to free up $2.5 billion state dollars that were originally slated to go to the state highway fund. By delaying a diversion of sales tax money from August […]

House considers a bigger ask from the Rainy Day Fund

Needs must, as they say. The proposal from state Rep. John Zerwas, a Richmond Republican and the House’s chief budget writer, would withdraw about $2.4 billion from the Rainy Day Fund as part of a supplemental budget to pay bills coming due for programs like Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program for the poor and disabled, […]

A really dumb “Trump and the train” article

Ugh. Texas is closer than ever to building the first high-speed train in the United States, thanks to President Donald Trump’s fascination with these transportation projects and a well-timed pitch to his administration. Now developers nationwide are looking to the privately owned Texas Central Railway as a test case of what can get done with […]

Bill to restore some budget flexibility filed

Call it the Law of Unintended Consequences Act of 2017. The Texas House’s chief budget writer filed legislation Friday that would allow lawmakers to claw back billions of dollars that voters approved for state highways, freeing them up for other budget needs. Texans overwhelmingly voted in 2015 to boost funding for the state’s public roadways […]

House releases school finance fix bill

A step in the right direction. The top public education policymaker in the Texas House unveiled a $1.6 billion plan on Monday that he described as a first step to overhauling the state’s beleaguered school funding system. At a Capitol press conference, state Rep. Dan Huberty said House Bill 21 would boost per-student funding for […]

Zerwas proposes using Rainy Day Fund

We’ll see if this goes anywhere. The chief budget writer in the Texas House on Friday proposed using $1.4 billion from the state’s savings account to pay bills coming due for a wide array of the state’s health and human services programs. The proposal from state Rep. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, would continue pay raises for […]

Patrick versus the House

The Texas House isn’t all onboard with Dan Patrick’s agenda, and our Lite Guv has his shorts in a bunch about it. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick celebrated a milestone Wednesday: His Senate had acted on all four of Gov. Greg Abbott’s emergency items with many more days to go in the 85th legislative session. “It’s […]

How the Legislature is raising your property taxes

RG Ratcliffe explains it all to you: Just how much money does the increased appraisal on property in your school district and elsewhere save the state budget writers? The projection is $1.5 billion for the next two-year budget. And where does this money go? In its initial budget, the Senate plans to use the savings on other state expenditures. […]