Tribpedia: Budget

The Texas Constitution requires the Legislature to balance its budget every year without borrowing against future receipts. That bars the government from deficit spending and forces lawmakers, who meet for 20 weeks every two years, to constantly balance demands for programs and services against voters' desire to limit taxes, fees and other costs of government.

The Legislative Budget Board — a ...

House Speaker Joe Straus (l) shakes the hand of State Rep. Jim Pitts (r), R-Waxahachie, after the House passed HB1 the state budget, 97-53 late on May 28, 2011.
House Speaker Joe Straus (l) shakes the hand of State Rep. Jim Pitts (r), R-Waxahachie, after the House passed HB1 the state budget, 97-53 late on May 28, 2011.

House Sends Medicaid IOU Bill to Perry

House members unanimously approved a bill largely devoted to addressing a shortfall in Medicaid. Health providers for poor children and the disabled in Texas won't get paid starting Thursday unless Gov. Rick Perry signs the bill soon.

Senators (l to r) Royce West, D-Dallas, Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler and Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, listen to testimony from CPRIT officials in Senate Finance on Feb. 5, 2013.
Senators (l to r) Royce West, D-Dallas, Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler and Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, listen to testimony from CPRIT officials in Senate Finance on Feb. 5, 2013.

Republican Senator Proposes Tax Hike for Transportation

State Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, wants Texas voters to approve a constitutional amendment to temporarily increase the state sales tax to pay off the Texas Department of Transportation's debt.

Both Texas and Virginia have amassed billions of dollars in debt over the last decade in order to fund transportation. In February 2013, Virginia lawmakers overhauled how the state funds transportation by cutting gas taxes and raising sales taxes.
Both Texas and Virginia have amassed billions of dollars in debt over the last decade in order to fund transportation. In February 2013, Virginia lawmakers overhauled how the state funds transportation by cutting gas taxes and raising sales taxes.

In Hunt for Roads Funds, Texas Won't Model Virginia

Texas lawmakers hope to follow in Virginia's footsteps this session and revamp the way they fund transportation. But Texas is not likely to adopt Virginia's approach, which includes cutting gas taxes and raising sales taxes. Lawmakers are more likely to raise registration fees and move around money the state is already collecting.

House  Appropriations Chair, Rep. Jim Pitts R-Waxahachie with a big smile as he votes on House supplemental bill HB 10  on February 21st, 2013
House Appropriations Chair, Rep. Jim Pitts R-Waxahachie with a big smile as he votes on House supplemental bill HB 10 on February 21st, 2013

House Passes Bill to Address $4.5 Billion Medicaid IOU

With little debate on Thursday, House lawmakers passed House Bill 10, an emergency supplemental appropriations bill that needs to get to Gov. Rick Perry's desk by next month to avoid bills owed to medical workers going unpaid.

Recalled products, natural threats, choking hazards, and items that could cause emergencies when large amounts are ingested by children, are displayed at the South Texas Poison Center in San Antonio. Miguel Fernández, managing director of the center, is reflected in the display case glass.
Recalled products, natural threats, choking hazards, and items that could cause emergencies when large amounts are ingested by children, are displayed at the South Texas Poison Center in San Antonio. Miguel Fernández, managing director of the center, is reflected in the display case glass.

Emergency Services Agency Has Cash It Can't Spend

The agency that oversees the state’s 911 system and poison control centers has both too much money and not nearly enough. The state is sitting on more than $200 million collected from phone bill-paying Texans and earmarked specially for the agency — money that can’t be spent because it is being used in an accounting trick to balance the budget.

 

House members huddle at dais on February 14th, 2013
House members huddle at dais on February 14th, 2013

First Impressions

Texas Weekly

The Texas House is about to hold its first debate, and on a spending bill, to boot. It will pass, because it must. But watch how they work.

Rep. Jim Pitts R-Waxahachie, chair of the House Committee on Appropriations, listens to Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer D-San Antonio on February 11th, 2013
Rep. Jim Pitts R-Waxahachie, chair of the House Committee on Appropriations, listens to Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer D-San Antonio on February 11th, 2013

House Might Restore Some Education Budget Cuts

Members of the Texas House are in talks to add some money to public education in the current two-year budget. The Texas Legislature cut $5.4 billion from education last session. Budget writers say nearly $1 billion could be added to the current budget without triggering a constitutional limit on spending.

Good Times or Bad, the Texas Budget is Tight

When money was tight two years ago, the state's top budget writers employed cutbacks and accounting tricks to balance the budget. Money is flowing again, but the budget folks are still finding it easy to say no, saying they're blocked by lawmakers' promises not to spend faster than inflation and to use the state's Rainy Day Fund sparingly.

In his Jan. 29, 2013, State of the State speech, Gov. Rick Perry avoided hot-topic issues like abortion, immigration and gun control and focused instead on infrastructure, budget reform and education.
In his Jan. 29, 2013, State of the State speech, Gov. Rick Perry avoided hot-topic issues like abortion, immigration and gun control and focused instead on infrastructure, budget reform and education.

Searching for Clues in Perry's State of the State

The governor stayed away from social issues and some obvious hot-button topics in his State of the State speech this week. But that doesn't mean it wasn't a political speech. He discussed fiscal issues that have been a focus of some conservatives and renewed his vows to battle the federal government on health care.

TribLive at the Austin Club featuring State Sen. Tommy Williams and State Rep. Jim Pitts on financial issues facing the 83rd Texas Legislature.
TribLive at the Austin Club featuring State Sen. Tommy Williams and State Rep. Jim Pitts on financial issues facing the 83rd Texas Legislature.

Pitts and Williams Say School Funding Debate Can Wait

Ongoing school finance litigation will likely prevent the Legislature from discussing education funding issues this session, two Republican budget leaders said at a TribLive event Thursday. 

Charting the Budget

Texas Weekly

The first budgets from the House and Senate are out, marked by their authors as mere starting points. Here's how they compare to each other, and to the current budget.

In his Jan. 29, 2013, State of the State speech, Gov. Rick Perry avoided hot-topic issues like abortion, immigration and gun control and focused instead on infrastructure, budget reform and education.
In his Jan. 29, 2013, State of the State speech, Gov. Rick Perry avoided hot-topic issues like abortion, immigration and gun control and focused instead on infrastructure, budget reform and education.

Perry Talks Water, Tax Relief in State of the State

In his seventh State of the State address, Gov. Rick Perry ignored a number of controversial issues and urged state lawmakers to do the nitty gritty work of government: fund water projects, build more roads, improve education and make the budget more transparent.