AUSTIN (AP) – Speculation about how massive Texas’ budget shortfall will be comes to an end this week.

Comptroller Susan Combs will announce her official projection Monday of how much revenue the state will have available to spend in the next budget. Her estimate is the number used by the Legislature for doling out money to schools and thousands of other programs for the 2012-2013 budget years.

The shortfall has been pegged as high as $24 billion by some estimates. The figure is the gap between revenue and the money needed to maintain current services.

It will be the driving force behind almost every decision the Legislature makes when it convenes Tuesday. From parks and highways to health care programs for the poor and disabled, state agencies are bracing for the hatchet.

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