February 12, 2003
State budget update

Governor Goodhair has finally gotten around to admitting that the only way to eradicate the $9.9 billion budget deficit without raising taxes is to cut funding for education and health care, two things he never actually mentioned while on the campaign trail.

The governor's new spending reductions, designed to help bridge a $9.9 billion revenue shortfall, would average 9 percent for most state agencies -- and would be even more for state universities -- during the next two-year budget period beginning Sept. 1.

Perry and legislative leaders already have demanded 7 percent cuts from agencies to enable state government to end this fiscal year in the black.

"Texas families don't want, don't need and don't deserve new taxes," Perry said in his State of the State Address, receiving much applause from the Republican-dominated Legislature.

But the governor reiterated his support for a proposal to let university governing boards raise tuition, an item that could add thousands of dollars to college costs.


In all, Perry -- who last month was criticized for submitting a budgetary proposal that contained zeros rather than specific spending amounts -- outlined $9.1 billion in cuts, money transfers, tightened tax loopholes and other spending reductions on Tuesday. He also sought $390 million in new spending for his economic development fund.

The Legislature, subject to the governor's veto powers, will make the final decision on any spending plan.

The Legislature's budget-drafting arm has told state agencies to draft a starting-point budget that cuts 12.5 percent from state spending. That would cut public education funding by $2.7 billion, health and human services by $1.4 billion and the state criminal justice system by $607 million.

Well, at least there's no more smoke and mirrors to hide behind. It's out in the open, and people can have their say about it. The Chron was typically wishy washy. The Dallas Morning News gave him a mixed review (registration required). I didn't find any other editorials about his State of the State speech in a quick tour of the big city newspapers. Maybe they're waiting for a bigger issue to come along.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 12, 2003 to Budget ballyhoo | TrackBack