The Budget Puzzle–Part Six

We’ve looked at what’s needed in 2014-15 to cover student or client growth and cost increases in some key state services – public and higher education, health and human services, state worker benefits, and prisons. Now it’s time to see what the “bare bones” big picture adds up to, plus get a sense of what it would take to get the state budget back on track and better able to provide all Texans with access to basic health care and educational opportunities.

Budget Puzzle graph

First, there’s the starting point of 2012-13 spending. In addition to the $81.3 billion General Revenue appropriations authorized to date, the legislature will approve $4.7 billion in supplemental Medicaid/CHIP spending, plus several hundred million dollars for correctional managed health care, brushfire expenses, and other outstanding bills. This results in a 2012-13 spending level of $86 billion, not counting the $2 billion payment for schools that was postponed to September 2013.

Add to that the $10 billion outlined in parts two through five of this series, and you get $96 billion as the amount of General Revenue needed to keep the current, recession-driven budget cuts in effect through 2014 and 2015. Any less than that, and even more cuts would be required.

Finally, $108 billion is what’s needed to undo the 2011 cuts and restore funding for education, health care, and other basic state services not even covered in this series – such as parks and environmental clean-up, state courts, and workforce development. That may sound like a lot of money, but it turns out to be what Texas was doing a decade ago, in the 2002-03 budget, adjusting only for population and inflation growth.  If Monday’s revenue estimate confirms that state taxes are indeed recovering to pre-recession levels, isn’t it time to see some recovery in what we invest in our future?

At the Center for Public Policy Priorities, we believe in a Texas that offers everyone the chance to compete and succeed in life. We envision a Texas where everyone is healthy, well-educated, and financially secure. We want the best Texas - a proud state that sets the bar nationally by expanding opportunity for all. CPPP is an independent public policy organization that uses data and analysis to advocate for solutions that enable Texans of all backgrounds to reach their full potential. We dare Texas to be the best state for hard-working people and their families.


  • Who wins by Texas not investing in its own future through education? The private prisons! Who has spent over $45,000,000 dollars lobbying nationwide? The private prisons! ( )

    I wonder how much of that was invested in Texas?

    Bill Betzen 04.01.2013
  • If the State of Texas would do away with sub contracting Medicaid management and oversight, probably millions of dollars would be saved and actually spent where it’s needed, on the care of the poor, rather than going into the pockets of businesses that put profit before the welfare of the needy. I have learned just today that the State of Texas now plans to do away with the program that allows family members of home bound elderly patients to be paid as attendants to care for their loved ones. This is shamefully short sighted. In my particular situation, it is basically writing a death sentence for my mother who suffers from COPD, congestive heart failure, dementia, urinary and bowel incontinence and only recognizes and remembers me. If the State no longer allows me to be paid to care for my mother, I will have to place my mother in a nursing home because the State also intends to reduce the maximum number of attendant hours to 40, which would not allow enough time for me to commute back and forth to an 8 hour a day job – that is, if I can find a job at the age of almost 62 in this economy – and I can not live off of only 40 hours of pay at an attendant’s pay rate. I probably will end up having to depend on assistance myself, thus burdening the state further, rather than alleviating its budget woes.
    There are no other family members so I don’t have the option of sharing responsibility for my mother’s care.
    I can not believe how this country treats its most vulnerable and needy, the very same people hwo survived the Great Depression, world War II and Viet Nam, only to be thrown onto the garbage heap by our elected representatives.

    Dianne LaFaver 07.01.2013

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