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 ...

Senate Budget Debate Stalls Over Vote Count

Sen. Steve Ogden R-Bryan during Senate Finance Committee hearing on April 19th, 2011
Sen. Steve Ogden R-Bryan during Senate Finance Committee hearing on April 19th, 2011

Waiting for the Senate budget debate? Get comfortable. Plans to bring the Senate’s substitute for the House’s budget up for a vote on the floor on Thursday have for now been pushed back to Friday or later, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said. In order to hear the bill at all, Senate Finance Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, needs to have 21 votes, or two-thirds of the Senate. As of Wednesday evening, the numbers weren't on his side.

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst (c) goes over legislation with colleagues on the Senate floor April 18, 2011
Lt. Governor David Dewhurst (c) goes over legislation with colleagues on the Senate floor April 18, 2011

Dewhurst Makes Budget Pitch to Senators

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, trying to build enough support to bring a proposed state budget up for consideration this week, appealed in writing to state senators, supporting the plan and a provision that would allow the state to spend $3 billion from the Rainy Day Fund to make it balance.

Gov. Rick Perry (c) visits the Texas House and talks to Rep. Gary Elkins (l), R-Houston and Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, on April 26, 2011.
Gov. Rick Perry (c) visits the Texas House and talks to Rep. Gary Elkins (l), R-Houston and Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, on April 26, 2011.

Perry: "No Faith" In LBB; Leave Rainy Day Fund Alone

Gov. Rick Perry says he is unswayed by estimates that the state's Rainy Day Fund may end up being more flush than previously anticipated and blasted the Legislature's budget office as an unreliable source of numbers.

Texas For Conservative Budget Commercial
Texas For Conservative Budget Commercial

Video: Conservative Coalition Expands Ad Campaign

One day after the Senate passed its version of the budget for the next biennium, the Texas Public Policy Foundation expanded its media campaign for a "conservative budget." They produced a series of new ads now running on statewide television. The timing appears to be strategic, as the Senate and House prepare to reconcile their spending plans in conference committee. 

House Support For Senate Budget Unlikely

The Senate Finance Committee passed a budget bill this week that proposes spending about $12 billion more than the House in the next biennium. Senators are promising to hold the line on cuts to education and health services funding, even if that means tapping the Rainy Day Fund for an additional $3 billion. At first glance, House Appropriations Chair Jim Pitts says there's no way his chamber can meet the Senate halfway. 

A lemon is left on the desk by a protester as the Senate Finance Committee voted to use the rainy day fund to balance the state budget on April 21, 2011.
A lemon is left on the desk by a protester as the Senate Finance Committee voted to use the rainy day fund to balance the state budget on April 21, 2011.

Senate Panel Approves $176.5 Billion Budget

A $176.5 billion budget for the 2012-13 biennium — 5.9 percent smaller than the current budget but almost $12 billion larger than the version passed earlier by the House — won approval from the Senate Finance Committee Thursday morning and will come to a full Senate vote after the Easter break. And, unlike the House version, the Senate would use up to $3.1 billion from the Rainy Day Fund.

Sen. Steve Ogden R-Bryan during Senate Finance Committee hearing on April 19th, 2011
Sen. Steve Ogden R-Bryan during Senate Finance Committee hearing on April 19th, 2011

Ogden Proposes Taking Another $3B From Rainy Day Fund

Senate Finance Chair Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, has dropped the news many have been waiting to hear: He wants to attach a contingency provision to the 2012-13 budget that would withdraw $3 billion from the Rainy Day Fund, provided other revenue can’t be found and the comptroller needs a last resort. 

Senate Finance Committee Chair Sen. Steve Ogden and Sen. John Whitmire listen during committee meeting on April 19th, 2011
Senate Finance Committee Chair Sen. Steve Ogden and Sen. John Whitmire listen during committee meeting on April 19th, 2011

Senators Look for Money Without Saying "Taxes"

State senators have unveiled a list of almost $5 billion in cash-flow tricks, property sales and fees that could be used to ease cuts in the state budget, but it's not enough to completely close the gap between what they have available and what they hope to spend.

Interactive: Close the Texas Budget Shortfall

Texas lawmakers have six weeks left in the regular session, and their struggle with the state's tight 2012-13 budget is expected to take up much of that time and could even extend into a special session this summer. It's a hard job, and perhaps the best way to show you that is to let you decide for yourself how the $27 billion shortfall should be closed. Use our interactive budget shortfall app to see what you're willing to give up to close the gap.

Carol Strayhorn announces for governor, June, 2005.
Carol Strayhorn announces for governor, June, 2005.

A Texas-Sized Budget Problem Deferred — to Now

The 2006 tax swap — lowering local school property taxes and creating a new state business tax to make up the difference — is at the center of the state’s current budget troubles. It was never an even swap, and the architects are still pointing fingers over what and whom to blame for the “structural deficit” in state finances.

Federal USDA workers inspect Mexican cattle for fever ticks before admitting them into the country. If a single tick is found, the entire herd must be quarantined and sent back to the rancher.
Federal USDA workers inspect Mexican cattle for fever ticks before admitting them into the country. If a single tick is found, the entire herd must be quarantined and sent back to the rancher.

Slideshow: Fever Tick Inspection in Laredo

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.