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Texas

Pew Charitable Trusts Looks Into Issues Facing Texas Leaders

The Pew Charitable Trusts is known for its research on public policy. This week, they turn their attention to state legislatures, including Texas.

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The declining price of oil is a huge issue for Texas, impacting everything the state does because less revenue affects the state budget.

Scott Greenberger is executive editor of the Stateline website. He says the Texas economy is more diverse than in previous boom-to-bust cycles.

“State officials seem pretty confident that the state will be able to weather the storm. Of course, Texas has a biannual budget, so there might be mid-year or mid-budget adjustments, depending on how revenues come in.”

One of the issues that could potentially be impacted by less revenue is healthcare. Louisiana recently became the 31st state to opt for Medicaid expansion, but Texas leaders have been adamant that they have no intention to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

“It’s hard to imagine that Texas in the next year or so is going to opt for expansion, but that’s a lot of money — a lot of federal money — to leave on the table.”

Lawmakers in many states are expected to take up measures that would reduce the prison population and treat drug offenders.

“Texas actually was ahead of a lot of states toward treatment as opposed to long sentences for drug offenders and some other reforms to reduce costs, at the same time not impacting public safety in a negative way.”

Pew hopes to reach policymakers in each of the 50 states.

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