Lesser of Two Budget Evils

A Texas conference committee is expected to study the budget passed by Senate Republicans. Reaction to the 176-billion dollar s pending blueprint by some Houston lawmakers was not too favorable. Pat Hernandez has more.

The two year spending plan passed by Senate Republicans makes about 11-billion dollars in cuts from the present budget, but  Democratic Senator Mario Gallegos says those cuts will be felt.

“I’m concerned that there’s not enough money, not only across the board for Texans, but in my Senate district. I mean, it lacks 4-billion dollars in public education and it lacks another 5-billion in health and human services.”

Representative Garnet Coleman echoes the sentiments of Gallegos.

“I don’t believe that’s a budget that can sustain the needs of the state of Texas, no differently than the House budget as passed by the House cannot sustain the needs of the state of Texas, whether it’s higher education, public education, our seniors and our little kids.”

The cuts in the senate plan, are less drastic than the ones in the house version, but Houston Democratic representative Sylvester Turner thinks it’s the lesser of two evils.

“Essentially if the House bill is very, very, very bad, the Senate bill is very very bad. When you put the two together, let’s say you’re gonna come up with somewhere in between. That just means a horrible situation is a little less horrible, but for the people in the state of Texas, it is still a bad situation.”

Other lawmakers I talked to were concerned about having money to pay for bills.

Republican representative Debbie Riddle of Tomball thinks this is the time to dip into the rainy day fund.

“I am willing to dip into that for the purpose of only paying the bills that are due in 2011, but I am not willing to spend a dime of it for 2012.”

The budget’s impact on education in Texas cannot be denied.
Gayle Fallon: “It’s a budget that’s gonna damage children, the state will pay a heavy price in the future for not educating their kids.”

Gayle Fallon is president of the Houston Federation of Teachers. She says it’s like lawmakers forgot to read the part of the Texas Constitution that calls for a free and adequate education for students.

“Parents are gonna see huge class sizes next year, particularly in the secondary schools. We’re gonna see school closures. You know, there’s nothing good in that budget.”

The plan now goes before the House, which is expected to reject the Senate version and appoint a conference committee to come up with a compromise.