Strayhorn said she will release the official estimate of what lawmakers can spend on their 2004-05 budget early next week. But she said a "spending spree" by the 2001 Legislature, combined with a sluggish state economy, will force lawmakers into cutting current state services.
"It's going to be cuts. It's going to be painful," said Strayhorn, who changed her last name from Rylander after getting remarried last week.
But whatever. Let's look at the reasons she now says we're in deeper doodoo than we first thought:
As the last session ended -- and before Perry signed the budget into law -- Strayhorn predicted lawmakers would face a $5.1 billion shortfall this year.
She said lawmakers went ahead and pushed back major payments for Medicaid and Medicare and created a new system of health insurance for teachers that will cost more than $2.2 billion every budget cycle.
"The last Legislature had a party and left this Legislature with a hangover," Strayhorn said Tuesday.
As for the teacher-health-insurance thing, I have no doubt that it was politically popular, just as the massive tax cuts that Dubya gave us in the 90s were popular. In fact, it's an accomplishment that Governor Goodhair touts on his web page:
"Last session, we made a needed investment in our public schools with an across-the-board $3,000 pay raise for every teacher, counselor, nurse and librarian. I would like to see that trend continued by freeing up close to $700 million in capital gains from the Permanent School Fund to be used for teacher compensation or benefits."
$1.2 billion in budget for school employee health insurance without impacting the Permanent School Fund; funding from available revenue.
UPDATE: Just posted on the Chron webpage is this AP story in which Governor Goodhair joins Strayhorn in piling on that bad ol' Lege:
"I vetoed one half of a billion dollars worth of spending and, frankly, I would have vetoed more had I been able to get to it," Perry said. He said he did not remember what else he would have nixed with his line-item budget veto power.