Texas lawmakers are expecting to find a hole in the state budget — anywhere from $11 billion to $17 billion, maybe even more — when they return to Austin a year from now. That’s the worst forecast since 2003
Precipitious drops in revenue, including several months of double-digit decreases in sales tax receipts — which represent about 57 percent of the state’s total tax haul — have prompted Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus to ask state agencies for 5 percent cuts.
“Well, they cut Medicaid and CHIP (the Children’s Health Insurance Program), and otherwise they pretty much balanced it on the backs of other people,” said Eva DeLuna Castro, a former analyst at the Comptroller's office and now a budget analyst with the Center for Public Policy Priorities. “The Medicaid and CHIP cuts — I mean, that is hundreds of thousands of children losing healthcare.”
if I had one warning for this [upcoming] Legislature, it would be: Go for substance, not window dressing.”
Even the 5 percent cuts already requested will be easier said than done, says DeLuna Castro. “There’s not a lot that Texas does that’s optional. That’s what they're going to find out when they get the descriptions of the cuts. We're not really doing much that’s fat or duplicative or unnecessary. Everybody needs something that a state agency provides.”