Texas Enters 82nd Legislative Session With $15 Billion Shortfall

By Jack Fink, CBS 11 News

AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – On Monday, the day before state lawmakers are sworn in for the 82nd Legislative Session, Comptroller Susan Combs announced Texas faces a $15 billion budget shortfall.

According to Combs, lawmakers will have $72.2 billion to spend for the 2012-2013 budget, which is about $15 billion less than the $87 billion budget in 2010-2011.

“This is the new reality,” said Senator Florence Shapiro (R-Plano.)

And that reality weighs heavily on schools, roads, healthcare and border security: But what will face the budget axe and what won’t?

Shapiro said leaders must re-evaluate everything that goes into the state’s budget.

“This is not the time for adding taxes, to start adding fees to start looking at new programs,” she said.

But Democratic lawmakers believe the state’s budget shortfall is actually close to $27 billion, since Texas now has to include its increased population. And officials, including District 103 State Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas), believe the state can’t turn its back on the poor.

“I’m going to fight to protect children’s health care insurance, senior care and public education,” he said. “We need to take care of people who are most vulnerable in the state. That’s central to what Texas is all about.”

And just feet from the state Capitol, another political drama unfolded: House Republicans debated who will preside as speaker.

While Republicans caucused behind closed doors, more than 100 members of the Tea Party rallied for District 70 Rep. Ken Paxton (R – McKinney). Tea Party member Katrina Pierson said Paxton is more conservative than current House Speaker Joe Straus (R – San Antonio). Paxton was not available for comment.

“Eleven Republicans changed sides last session and voted with Democrats, so our Speaker Joe Straus was elected by Democrats,” Pierson said.

But in the end, 70 of 100 House Republicans believed Straus is conservative enough.

“I am pleased going into the caucus, I had pledged support of an overwhelming majority,” Straus said.

But that’s not final yet. Tuesday at noon, when members are sworn in, both Republicans and Democrats in the House will vote on a speaker. But with the Republican supermajority – there are about 101 Republicans compared to 49 Democrats in the House – it’s being thought of as a done deal.

While Democratic lawmakers CBS 11 spoke with said they and their votes are still relevant, Republicans point out that Texas residents spoke loud and clear in November, and it shows in the supermajority.

  • http://topsy.com/dfw.cbslocal.com/2011/01/10/texas-enters-82nd-legislative-session-with-15-billion-shortfall/?utm_source=pingback&utm_campaign=L2 Tweets that mention Texas Enters 82nd Legislative Session With $15 Billion Shortfall CBS Dallas / Fort Worth – News, Sports, Weather, Traffic and the Best of DFW -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by cbs11news D/FW. cbs11news D/FW said: As @FlorenceShapiro said, TX lawmakers best prepare for the 'new reality,' a $15 billion shortfall going into the #txlege http://ht.ly/3BBcN […]

  • RAB

    How about selling Governer’s Mansion; fire all ????? NOT OUR TAX MONEY; LET PERRY PAY; I ONLY VOTED FOR HIM; BECAUSE BOTH !!

  • connie keller

    I am a successful business, experiencing a bit of a short fall myself. Guess what when I have a shortfall…I don’t get paid. I have to maintain my finances so that I have extra in the bank when that happens. Maybe our “dedicated” government Senators and Congress men and women should do the same. I can’t spend $$$ like they do and never suffer the consequences. What’s up with that??? What would happen if….they were dedicated enough to layoff their over paid salaries for even 1 month like i am having to do right now. Oh yes, I don’t have any benefits either, no one pays insurance for me, no one gives me paid vacations, no one gives me kickbacks, no one does favors for me, no one ……. See what I am saying???? I am not trying to be ugly. Real poeple have to deal with life in real ways…why doesn’t the government? Thanks

  • Kim Dar

    What happened to all that money he said he put in the “Rainy Day Dund”? That was one of his big points during his campaign. The money he placed in that fund was part of the stimulus we received from the Feds and because he socked part of it away in the “Rainy Day Fund” we did not receive the education funds from the Feds because they placed strings on it that it would only be spent for Education and he couldn’t do that because that would not leave him any way to get his slimy hands on it. I think they should all take a salary cut. A lot of folks have taken a 10% cut in pay to keep their company’s afloat until things get better. They are no better than we are although they think they are.

  • JGW

    Ask the state employees what they would prefer to do! I can’t afford to lose another job this year due to budget cuts. I already did that last year. Now I am once again employed with the state and it may happen again. I would have much rather taken a pay cut and kept my job then lose it altogether. I believe a number of people working for the state would rather see that also. It makes no sense to lose your job and then the state has to pay your unemployment too. I’ll take a 10-20% pay cut. Let me keep my job.

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