Budget Conference Committee Proposal Doesn’t Account For Growth
With just a few days left in the 2013 legislative regular session, details and summary information on the 2013 and 2014-15 state budget deals are finally starting to emerge. The conference committee report for Senate Bill 1, the General Appropriations Act for 2014-15, includes $94.6 billion in General Revenue spending, and an All Funds budget of $197 billion. House Bill 1025 as amended by the Senate proposes another $387 million in GR spending for 2014-15. Combined, the $95 billion in GR spending is an increase of less than 8 percent compared to 2012-13 GR spending. It’s also less than the $97 billion needed to cover current services growth on the “austerity” budget enacted by the 2011 Legislature, and even further below agencies’ original requests for General Revenue.
The chart below shows that many major areas of General Revenue spending would almost recover in unadjusted terms to pre-recession levels (2010-11), after the significant cuts they saw in 2012-13. But after factoring in population growth (1.6 million more Texas residents from 2011 to 2015) and inflation, much of it due to rising health care costs, real GR spending per school or college student, Medicaid beneficiary, or any other person served, would at best be flat. The General Revenue increase shown in the chart for Medicaid is mainly due to caseload growth, since almost $1.1 billion in cost growth was not included by SB 1 conferees. The SB 1 conference committee report assumes $400 million in GR savings will come from continued “cost containment” efforts for Medicaid (Rider 51, page II-100).