Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and House Speaker Joe Straus want state agencies to make do with less in the next two-year budget cycle. The three elected leaders have issued a letter asking all agency heads to trim their funding requests by 4 percent.
Abbott, Patrick, and Straus sent the letter amid concerns about falling tax revenues.
Talmadge Heflin, a former Republican state representative from Harris County. Heflin was the House’s top budget writer during an earlier round of cuts. He considers the proposed cuts modest.
“You know in the same time in the budget cycle back in 2003, we actually looked at like a 12.5 percent cut in order to get the $10 billion shortfall handled,” Heflin says.
But Eva De Luna Castro, a budget analyst at the left-leaning Center for Public Policy Priorities, is concerned that many services — such as higher education — are already underfunded. “Texas has been a low spending state for a long time,” she says. “A lot of state services haven’t yet recovered from the 2011 round [of budget cuts].”
Several major budget items would be protected from cuts. These include health care programs for low-income Texans, public school education, and border security. Funding for these would remain steady at current levels. Castro says that’s welcome news. But she worries such funding still won’t be enough to keep up with the state’s growing population.