Tribpedia: Budget

Tribpedia

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 ...

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TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of Apr. 18, 2011

Hamilton on Victoria's efforts to divorce the University of Houston, Ramshaw on a disagreement between right-to-life groups over laws governing when life ends, E. Smith's TribLive interview with Sen. Kel Seliger and Rep. Burt Solomons on redistricting, Aguilar's interview with the mayor of Juárez, Tan on the continuing hunt for money to buy down budget cuts, Grissom on a psychologist who found more than a dozen inmates mentally competent to face the death penalty, Stiles and yours truly on the House redistricting maps and Galbraith on cutting or killing a tax break for high-cost natural gas producers: The best of our best content from April 11 to 15, 2011.

More than half of the patients at Cedar View Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center rely on Medicaid.
More than half of the patients at Cedar View Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center rely on Medicaid.

At Nursing Homes, Fears of a Budget "Armageddon"

The Texas Legislature is faced with a budget challenge that pits the Republican majority’s desire to cut government spending against a vulnerable target: nursing homes. Late Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee defied the House’s more conservative spending blueprint by restoring funding to the same level as the current biennium. It is hopeful news for the industry, which has been bracing for the worst. But the full Senate and the House still must approve the committee’s decision.

Texas Budget Players in Race to Find New Revenue

The Big Men on Campus in the school known as the Texas Legislature have the unenviable job of finding money to alleviate the massive cuts outlined in House Bill 1, the general appropriations bill for the next biennium. Nearly 90 days into the session, lawmakers are playing a sometimes unorganized political game where the stakes are high and changes can happen quickly.

Tax Panel Considers Making $1M Exemption Permanent

The House Ways & Means Committee is considering several bills that have the same mission: to make permanent the franchise tax exemption for businesses that report $1 million or less in gross revenue.

The exemption has been in place since 2008. It is scheduled to expire in September and go down to $600,000; businesses that make less than that would be exempt, while those making more would pay the tax. If that happens, the head of the Texas chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business told the committee that nearly 28,000 businesses would be added to the tax roll.

Is an Incomplete Budget Better Than a Shrunken One?

There’s a widely held belief around the Capitol that lawmakers balanced a troublesome budget in 2003 with a convenient underestimation of how many people would be in line to receive the many social services to which they were legally entitled. So why not do that on purpose, and out in the open?

Some Cuts to Texas Budget Actually Cost Money

Cutting the budget can be expensive. Something that appears to save money can, on further inspection, cost more. Family planning, for instance. Shrinking the state’s family planning services would cost money because it would result in an increase in babies paid for by Medicaid. And to the extent that this is about money, and not about policy or politics or philosophy, it wasn’t a smart series of cuts. 

Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan and Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie.
Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan and Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie.

It's Senate vs. Austerity in Fight Over Budget

The betting game has already begun on whether the budget battle between a more moderate Senate and a far stingier House will lead to a standoff — and a special session in the summer. The two budget committee chairmen refuse to say whether one body may have more sway than the other in the final outcome. 

A copy of HB1 and its amendments sits on the desk of State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, on April 1, 2011
A copy of HB1 and its amendments sits on the desk of State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, on April 1, 2011

Senate List of $5.5 Billion in Revenue Proposals Leaked

Texas senators scratching for new state revenue canceled a meeting to talk about their options today, but a copy of their list got loose — and it includes $5.5 billion in taxes, fees, asset sales and accounting tricks that could be used to ease their budget problems.

Video: Senate Signals Changes Ahead For HB 1

The Texas House sent its budget blueprint to the Senate this week. The majority voted to cut spending by $23 billion on state services ranging from nursing home and Medicaid reimbursements to public education and scholarships for incoming college students. Many senators say those cuts are too deep, and they're ready to make some drastic changes. 

Unexpectedly, Lawmaker Finds Extra Money For Schools

A Texas lawmaker said the magic words Thursday morning to a panel of exhausted and nearly hopeless state budget writers: he has found a “new revenue source without raising taxes.” State Rep. Rob Orr, R-Burleson, introduced two bills to the House Appropriations Committee that could add several million dollars to the public schools budget over the next two years. 

Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, votes 'aye' to table an amendment regarding HB4 the supplemental appropriations bill on March 31, 2011
Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, votes 'aye' to table an amendment regarding HB4 the supplemental appropriations bill on March 31, 2011

Pitts Talks, Gently, of Adding to Texas Budget

Less than two days after approving a state budget that cuts $23 billion from current spending, Rep. Jim Pitts says House leaders are already talking among themselves about how much more money they'd be willing to spend. And House Speaker Joe Straus talked today about the budget more as a stop along the way than as the final blueprint, saying at one point he was "more pleased with the process than with the product, really."

Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, speaks with Rep. John Otto, R-Dayton, on the House floor during the budget debate.
Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, speaks with Rep. John Otto, R-Dayton, on the House floor during the budget debate.

House Budget Shrinks Spending, Slashes Services

The Texas House started with a $164.5 billion budget and ended with the same total. But lawmakers spent the better part of a weekend making changes inside the budget for 2012-13 before giving it their approval, 98 to 49, late Sunday night. Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, called it a draft that will be changed over the next two months. House Speaker Joe Straus told members, "We need to move this bill."

Video: Lawmakers React, Look Ahead to HB1 Battle

State Reps. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, and Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, react to the passage of HB4 and HB275. The appropriations committee member and majority caucus chair also give the Tribune a preview of the upcoming battle over HB1, the House's bare-bones general appropriations plan for the next biennium. 

Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, votes 'aye' to table an amendment regarding HB4 the supplemental appropriations bill on March 31, 2011
Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, votes 'aye' to table an amendment regarding HB4 the supplemental appropriations bill on March 31, 2011

Politics, Not Just Numbers, in Budget Amendments

The House will launch Friday morning into a $164.5 billion budget proposal for 2012-13, which is about $23 billion, or 12.3 percent, smaller than the current budget. But numbers aren’t all that’s buried in the budget. Lawmakers have filed hundreds of amendments that are political in nature, from repealing in-state tuition for illegal immigrants to trying to push Planned Parenthood out of the family planning business. 

Graphic: The Texas Budget Cycle

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Confused about the state's budget? Trust us — you’re not alone. This session, lawmakers will set a budget that will be implemented in fiscal years 2012 and 2013 (Sept. 1, 2011 to Aug. 31, 2012). And later this week, House members will vote on their version of a general appropriations bill. Use our flow chart to help understand where we are in the process and what steps are next.

Developer Jack E. Pratt, Sr., chairman of the Texas Gaming Association, speaks to the press on March 28, 2011.
Developer Jack E. Pratt, Sr., chairman of the Texas Gaming Association, speaks to the press on March 28, 2011.

Jack Pratt: The TT Interview

The head of the Texas Gaming Association, who's trying to convince Texas lawmakers to legalize casinos, on what's different this year, whether the tracks and casinos are playing nice, what he says to people who just don't like gambing, and how his likes his chances.