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Posts Tagged ‘deficit’

Kill that trash subsidy

Works for me. Mayor Sylvester Turner, working to close a $160 million budget deficit, has proposed scrapping payments that scores of Houston neighborhoods served by private trash haulers receive to help offset the cost of their waste contracts. The idea when the program started in the 1970s was that residents should not have to pay […]

First look at how HISD will balance its budget

Seems to be fairly well-received. The Houston school district’s interim superintendent on Thursday rescinded his proposal to reduce funding for gifted students amid concerns from parents and board members. At the same time, Ken Huewitt proposed bolstering the budgets of schools with significant concentrations of low-income students, using $21 million from federal funds. Schools with […]

Turner announces his budget

From the inbox: Utilizing a shared sacrifice approach, Mayor Sylvester Turner today unveiled a proposed Fiscal Year 2017 General Fund budget that eliminates a projected $160 million shortfall that was the result of cost increases, voter imposed revenue limitations, a broken appraisal system and the economic downturn. The budget totals $2.3 billion, which is about […]

Have I mentioned lately that the revenue cap is stupid public policy?

Because it is. Sales taxes are Houston’s second-largest source of revenue for the general fund, which pays for most core services. Just as concerning for city officials, however, was more news about the city’s largest general fund revenue source: property taxes. Mayor Sylvester Turner, as he did in February, criticized what he said is an […]

Mayor Turner releases transition team report

From the inbox, a glimpse of what to expect in the near to medium future from Mayor Turner. Mayor Sylvester Turner has released a 17-page report that details the work of his transition team chaired by businessman and long-time civic advisor David Mincberg. More than 250 Houstonians from all walks of life participated. They have […]

Lawsuits and low oil prices

Both are threatening the next Texas budget. Last week, lawyers for the state of Texas got the latest in a string of bad legal news. A lawsuit challenging the state’s foster care system as inhumane appeared to gain steam when an appeals court rejected the state’s request to stop the appointment of two “special masters” […]

It’s not easy going green

And by “going green” I mean legalizing pot, at least in Texas. Advocacy groups and lawmakers say marijuana policy reform in Texas could be the fiscally responsible thing to do in light of the state’s decreasing oil and gas revenues. Texas legislators should look to marijuana policy reform to save, and even make, money in […]

Prepping for the city budget

Mayor Turner gives a brief preview of what is to come. Mayor Sylvester Turner said Friday that he expects to lay off 40 city employees and eliminate 54 vacant positions as he seeks to close a budget shortfall of as much as $160 million, his first public estimate of the personnel reductions required to balance […]

Recycling contract impasse

Uh, oh. The city of Houston’s curbside recycling program could be put on hold after negotiations between Waste Management and Mayor Sylvester Turner’s office reached an apparent impasse over a new contract Tuesday. Though Turner said he remains committed to recycling and his office said he will be “pursuing any and all available options” before […]

RIP, One Bin For All

It had a good run, but at the very least the timing was all wrong. The One Bin For All program would let Houstonians throw all trash in the same bin, to be separated for recycling later. The hope was to push up Houston’s low recycling rate. But now the city could end up with […]

Layoffs are coming

It’s gonna suck, though hopefully not as hard as last time. Mayor Sylvester Turner said Wednesday that a still undetermined number of city employees will be laid off in the coming months, making his first formal acknowledgment that Houston’s projected $126 million budget gap can’t be closed by July without personnel reductions. Though Turner did […]

Things are tough all over

HISD faces a big deficit: Houston ISD leaders are bracing for a projected $107 million budget shortfall that, in a worst-case scenario, could prompt the district to slash jobs. During the school board meeting Thursday, however, officials pledged to try keep cuts away from schools. “We get it,” Ken Huewitt, the district’s deputy superintendent and […]

Circling back to city finances

I have three things to say about this. This time, [City Finance Director Kelly] Dowe insists, the $126 million deficit he projects for the budget year that starts next summer is not going to disappear, as past projected shortfalls have. There are no more payments to defer, he says, no more valuable city-owned land to […]

City deficit not as big as feared

This is a nice surprise. A huge budget deficit looming at City Hall – which has spurred talk of layoffs, service cuts, new fees and higher taxes – has been cut in half, relieving some pressure to scramble together a budget patch but doing little for Houston’s long-term financial health. The unexpected boost of good […]

Searching the couch cushions for loose change

That’s basically what this is. To say the city of Houston is working to cut a looming $120 million budget deficit one color copy at a time would not be accurate. It’s more like millions of color copies. Cellphones no one is using, old cars no one is driving, a 50-step process for approving fire […]

McClelland wants more money for more cops

And I want some answers before we go along with this request. Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland asked city leaders Tuesday for an additional $105 million over five years to hire hundreds of new officers as part of a plan to shore up divisions where thousands of crimes are never investigated and bolster traffic enforcement […]

Endorsement watch: Chron for Collier

Add the Houston Chronicle to the list of papers endorsing Mike Collier for Comptroller. [Sen. Glenn] Hegar knows politics; Collier knows the numbers. In our view the choice is clear: Texas needs the numbers man, not a politician who wants to use the office as a stepping stone to higher office. Texans know what can […]

Collier keeps up the attack

I really like the way he’s running his campaign. Democratic comptroller nominee Mike Collier says his Republican opponent Glenn Hegar bragged to a Houston-area tea party interviewer last year that he was proud of the Legislature’s 2011 budget cuts to public schools. On Friday, Collier released a web video to prove it. “It’s embarrassing and […]

Bell op-ed for eliminating the revenue cap

More like this, please. A decade ago, Houston voters restricted city property tax revenues to the combined rates of inflation and population increases. Like most arbitrary rules that politicians apply to math, this revenue cap sounds like a great idea until it meets the realities of a growing and expanding city. During the Great Recession, […]

TM talks to Mike Collier

He’s a really impressive candidate. What I’ve been surprised by in the past two years is how much farther right the state has gotten, even compared to someone like Rick Perry, who has, I think, been conservative by any normal standard. When Combs came back in 2013 reporting an $8.8 billion surplus—to me, that was […]

More details on the House budget

Consider this to be written in pencil, because it’s going to change. More than $1.6 billion and disagreements on how much Texas should spend on public education and Medicaid separate the budgets proposed by the House and Senate. The Senate budget proposal, passed 29-2 by the upper chamber last week, spends $195.5 billion, a 2.9 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Crocodile tears over the school finance lawsuit

This is little more than blaming the victim. A state judge is expected to rule next week on whether the school finance system is broken, but lawmakers aren’t anywhere near ready to launch repairs. Instead, Republican leaders plan to wait for an appeal and a final Texas Supreme Court ruling so they know exactly what […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Plaintiffs rest their case in school finance lawsuit

Phase one is over. Hundreds of districts suing the state over its school finance system wrapped up their case Wednesday with testimony that largely blamed the Legislature for creating the current funding crisis that stripped away an unprecedented $5.4 billion from public schools. After more than six weeks of testimony, the four plaintiff groups of […]

Eight billion dollars

That’s how much is needed per year to make public education whole. Lynn Moak told state District Judge John Dietz that it will take more than $8 billion a year in additional money to get students on target to graduate and to meet new college and career readiness standards. About 150,000 9th-grade students, or 47 […]

Cuts are not increases, no matter how you spin it

This is the Chron overview of HD134, which is once again the highest profile legislative race in the county, in part because it’s a referendum on the 2010 election and the cuts to public education funding that resulted from that election. In an area that takes great pride in its schools, [Rep. Sarah Davis] went […]

School finance lawsuit starts today

Ready or not, the latest school finance lawsuit, which Judge John Dietz has called “the granddaddy of them all”, begins today in Travis County. The Statesman takes a look at the history of school finance and associated litigation, and how we got here. In a 2006 special legislative session, lawmakers reduced local school property tax […]

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 […]