THE BIG CONVERSATION
A penny saved is a penny earned.
Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, and House Speaker Joe Straus have directed the Legislative Budget Board to give the green light to state agencies to implement requested budget savings proposals immediately.
“Every penny we save now in the 2010-11 biennium is one penny closer to balancing the budget in the next legislative session,” Perry said, announcing savings that are expected total approximately $1.2 billion.
On January 15, the big three asked all state agencies to submit a plan to cut their budget in the current biennium by 5 percent in hopes of lightening the burden of a shortfall in the next biennium that is now projected to possibly be as much as $18 billion.
When most of the proposals were accepted, some were spared the chopping block. Exemptions from the cuts are as follows:
• Texas Dept. of Public Safety Homeland and Border Security Funds to continue protecting Texans against all threats;
• State Health Services to maintain state hospital beds;
• Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice to ensure public safety;
• Texas Workforce Commission to maintain job training and job creation programs;
• Higher Education Coordinating Board to maintain increases in student financial aid.
Not all lawmakers are excited about the new savings. State Rep. Jim Dunnam, D-Waco, issued a statement saying, “However appropriate LBB's decisions, these cuts will undeniably reduce necessary state services to all Texans.”
Dunnam also noted that by adding the more than $500 million in federal money Unemployment Insurance money and the potentially $700 million of federal Race to the Top education funds, both of which Perry rejected in the last year, you get $1.2 billion.
• It’s Don McLeroy’s last hurrah at the State Board of Education, and he’s trying to make the most of it. Though he recently lost his reelection bid, McLeroy’s pushed a number of last-minute amendments to social studies curriculum standards that some say are a bit heavy-handed in their reflection of his own conservative Christian world view. After a public hearing today, the SBOE will vote on the changes Friday. A record 206 people have signed up at today’s hearing.
• Give a man a home. Critics continue to raise the issue of Gov. Rick Perry’s $10,000/month rental property. Today, at a news conference, the Texas AFL-CIO (whose offices are located beside the Governor’s Mansion, which is currently vacant as it undergoes renovations) plans to offer him an alternative. Texas AFL-CIO President Becky Moeller says, “We have decided to make a neighborly offer of alternative housing for Gov. Perry for $1 a year. In addition, I will make a personal guarantee to the Governor: No coyotes.”
• Good morning, Richardson. The Education subcommittee of the House Select Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding (try saying that three times fast) will meet this morning in Richardson, TX. They will hear invited and public testimony.
•Gov. Rick Perry and First Lady Anita Perry will host a grassroots event with Mitt Romney in Houston this evening.
“Tibet will not be crushed. Tibet is Texas. They will not give in…They will fight to the last man. Tibet is China’s Texas.” — talk show host Glenn Beck on his radio program.
• White camp blasts Perry over fund use — Houston Chronicle
• Lame Ducks Unlimited — The Texas Tribune
• New science textbooks for Texas schools on hold as state anticipates budget shortfall — The Dallas Morning News
• Interior chief says industry, feds may have grown careless — San Antonio Express-News