Lawmakers have spent most of the year doing preliminary work on the bill. But the machinery really gets going once ComptrollerÎ¾Susan Combs releases her revenue estimate.
Representative Garnet Coleman a Houston Democrat says the report, no matter the writer always has a tone of cautious desperation.
"There's never enough money, even when we have a surplus, becauseÎ¾that is the first thingÎ¾that budget-tiers say."
With the national recession there is no reason to think they same won't be the same this year. But at the same time this budget will be written when there couldÎ¾be more need for social safety net programs. So far president-elect Barack Obama seems ready to help out by boasting federal spending.
Dick Lavine follows the budget for the Center for Public Policy Priorities a progressive policy think tank.
"They could just raise the match rate on the current, say health insurance program. So for every dollar the state would put in the federal government would put in more. Which would either save us money, or mean we could cover more people, because unfortunately, there may be more a lot more people needing help because of the economy."
But with other programs, like the Children Health Insurance program, federal eligibility expansion could only be utilized if theÎ¾states spend some money too. Again Representative Coleman.
"There will beÎ¾a new chip bill in Congress it will probably go to 300-350 percentÎ¾of poverty. And if we don't fund that our federal money will go to another state."
The line of programs seeking more money in the new budget goes beyond social services. Public colleges and universities say they need more state help because of the stock market crash means less money coming from the school's endowments.
And the Texas population continues to boom, so just about every state service has more peopleÎ¾buying for service. That includes enrollment growth alone an additional 2 billion dollars and lawmakers had previously promised an additionalÎ¾Î¾2 billion increase in overall schoolÎ¾funding .
State Senator Steve Ogden and Florence Shapiro still hope that promise can be kept.
"Wait and see. Ya know, I hate talking about somethingÎ¾I haven't filed yet."
"It's our goal. It's our goal to have find a way to do that, but we are doing thatÎ¾right now."
"I think we can do it in the base budget."
There are a couple of factors that could help keep that promise. The state is currently sitting on a multibillion dollar revenue surplus. Î¾Although, exactly how much money that is has been hotly debated. And the state's rainy day fund,Î¾whichÎ¾gets its money from oil and natural gas revenues,Î¾should have a healthy balance thanks to previously high energy prices.
ButÎ¾Î¾Shapiro and Ogden say lawmakers need to make sure that the state leaves some of that in the bank forÎ¾the next state budget processÎ¾during the 2011 legislative session.
"I think it is very important that we look to the future. Nobody has the best crystal ball. Based on what we are seeing now, we have toÎ¾make sure we are not in the hole in the next biennium."
"And dig us a hole we can't get out of."
The budget could hit the floor of the House and Senate in April.