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 ...

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.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst

Texas Senate, Facing Tight Budget, Hunts for Revenue

The Texas Senate isn’t allowed to raise money. It’s right there in the state’s Constitution, which says all revenue bills must originate in the House. But there it goes, looking for “non-tax revenues” that could be used to put enough meat on the skimpy proposed budget to get senators to vote for it.

Beaumont attorney Micheal Getz is running for city council and a vocal opponent of the school board.
Beaumont attorney Micheal Getz is running for city council and a vocal opponent of the school board.

Deep Rift in Beaumont, Texas, on School Leadership

Beaumont's Carrol A. Thomas, who was widely praised when first hired, has recently become the focus of criticism for his leadership — criticism his supporters say is racially motivated. In May, residents will vote on a ballot initiative to make two of the school board’s seven seats at-large positions, which some view as an opportunity to reclaim control of an institution still central to the life of a struggling city.

State Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, lays out House Bill 1.
State Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, lays out House Bill 1.

Texas Lawmakers Send Budget Bill to Floor

Wednesday proved a pivotal day for lawmakers in the budget-writing process. As the House Appropriations Committee voted along party lines to move the 2012-13 budget bill to the floor for a vote, Senate lawmakers hinted they are looking to spend more than their counterparts on public education — setting the stage for a budget battle. 

Infographic: Rainy Day Politics In Texas

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Should legislators tap the Rainy Day Fund to cover this year's $4.3 billion deficit — and should they resort to it again to help close a massive shortfall in the next biennium's budget? As lawmakers draft their 2012-13 budgets, use our infographic to understand the intent of the Rainy Day Fund, what it takes to draw from it, and the political arguments for and against using it. 

Governor Rick Perry book signing at the Dell Diamond
Governor Rick Perry book signing at the Dell Diamond

Who Will Be Blamed for Big Cuts in School Funding?

Relocating the blame for public education cuts isn’t going to be an easy sales job. The school districts are simultaneously losing money from both of their main sources of revenue — state financing and revenue from local property taxes. And while many have money in the bank, their immediate financial futures aren’t promising.