Budget Writers Adopt Spending Cap, Seek More Cuts

Lawmakers want state agencies to cut another 2 to 3 percent from their current budgets — on top of the 5 percent cuts that were already ordered.

The Legislative Budget Board — comprised of members of both the House and Senate, along with the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the House — also adopted a spending cap for the next budget.

The board, choosing from five estimates, took one offered by the Texas Comptroller's office: The growth in the discretionary part of the state budget will be held to 8.92 percent in the budget lawmakers write next year. They had numbers as low as 4.63 percent, and as high as 13.13 percent from which to choose.

What's that in dollars? In the current budget, "state tax revenue not dedicated by the constitution" totals  $71.7 billion. Under the new cap, that could increase to as much as $78.1 billion. Had they gone with the lowest estimate of how much the economy will grow over the two years starting next November, the limit would be $75 billion; the highest growth rate would have put the cap at $81.1 billion.

The letter asking for spending cuts will go to agencies at the end of the month. Earlier cuts of 5 percent produced about $1.2 billion in savings, according to the LBB staff. And those numbers are independent of 10 percent cuts the agencies were asked to submit as part of their requests for money in the 2012-13 budget lawmakers will start crafting in January.

 

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