State Leaders Preview Budget Cuts

Lawmakers in the Texas Senate and House are
revealing a few details of their initial budget drafts.
Shelley Kofler reports that layoffs and furloughs
will help close the spending gap.


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On Thursday Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst told reporters the Senate’s first budget draft eliminates about 8,000 state jobs. That’s a little more than 3% of current state workers, including employees at universities and colleges. Dewhurst said cuts would be made by evaluating each program separately.

“We are not at all going to consider cross the board cuts. Those functions that are essential that we need to fund, we’ll fund. Those that don’t have the priority that they did when we passed them, I’m sorry. You may love them, but we are going to cut them.”

The lieutenant governor said public education is a high priority, but during comments to a policy group Thursday night, Dewhurst hinted that curriculum development and non-teaching positions are on his list of school cuts. And he seems to want the districts to spend some of the money they keep in reserve.

“I’m still at a loss why we spend a 1.5 billion on section 13 on for curriculum development. I don’t understand why we’ve added 65,000 non-teachers. I don’t understand why we got $7 billion of reserves sitting there and everyone thinks they’re going broke.”

Rep Jim Pitts, chairman of the House Appropriates Committee didn’t say just how many jobs will be eliminated in the House’s budget plan. He told the Texas Tribune that in addition to cuts, state employees will be furloughed, given unpaid days off.

“There will be less state employees when we are completed with this budget process. Because we are going to have a whole lot less money to spend.  We will cut a lot of programs that will not require state employees. But in additional savings, we could require some furloughs.”

While Pitts and Dewhurst agree tax increases will be off the table, Pitts mentioned several new options for revenue: a small fee on bottles and gambling.

The House and Senate’s base budgets are just the starting points for what will likely be a long and difficult process.
Texans get a look at details Tuesday when Pitts releases the House plan.

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