Politics

Report: Texas Budget Shortfall Could Balloon To Nearly $8 Billion In 2019

Texas lawmakers borrowed future revenues to help balance the budget for the two-year cycle that begins in September. The bill will come due as state Medicaid costs are set to skyrocket.

The Texas Legislature faces a budgetary hole of $8 billion in 2018.

Come 2019, Texas could face a budget shortfall that dwarfs the one lawmakers had to deal with this year. A study by the nonpartisan Texas Taxpayers and Research Association (TTARA) puts the gap for the next two-year budget cycle at $7.9 billion.

At the start of this year’s legislative session, Comptroller Glenn Hegar estimated a shortfall of almost $3 billion. Lawmakers cut spending to balance the budget for 2018 and 2019. But they also resorted to some one-time accounting maneuvers. The most significant was to tap money meant to go to the State Highway Fund.

“The Legislature delayed a transfer $1.8 billion of that until the next budget,” TTARA president Dale Craymer told Houston Matters. He said that amounted to borrowing money from the future. “Two years from now, you still have that spending with no money to pay for it, plus you’ve got to pay back the $1.8 billion. So it’s a $3.6 billion swing to the downside.”

Craymer says lawmakers use such gimmicks often, but never before on this scale. To make matters worse, Texas could find itself on the hook for an extra $2 billion in Medicaid costs, unless Congress renews a waiver set to expire in December.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas delegations in the U.S. House and Senate, as well as the Texas governorship, the state legislature, and county and city governments. Before taking up his current post, Andrew...

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