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Legislature Wrap-Up: February 1

By Robert Wood, NewsRadio 1080 KRLD
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AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – KRLD Austin Bureau reporter Robert Wood is staying warm and keeping the heat on what’s going on at the Capitol.

Budget Cuts Could Cause A Foster Care Slide

There’s a warning that budget cuts could reverse improvements in the foster care system.

It used to be that foster kids were taken to state offices when there was a lack of foster care providers. In 2007 that’s what happened to 611 kids. By last year the situation was much improved, with only 12 children ending up at state offices.

Department of Family and Protective Services Commissioner Ann Heilegenstein says that could change because of proposed budget cuts. Those cuts will mean fewer foster care providers meaning a return to the problem of not having any place to take kids when they’re removed from their homes. That could mean a return to temporary housing at state offices.

Limbering Up Education

Local school district’s could make many more education decisions under a bill filed today in the Texas Senate.

Should school district’s have the flexibility to lower teacher’s salaries or get rid of class size restrictions to save money? A bill filed by Plano Republican Senator Florence Shapiro could give them that freedom.

“What I hope that we will do is that the state will stop telling you, the local district’s, how many teachers to hire and what to pay them.” The bill would eliminate a lot of state mandates on school district’s, allowing those districts to make more funding decisions at the local level but exactly which mandates would be eliminated is still up for debate.

Doctors Get A Little Good Budget News

The outlook for doctors could get a little better in the state budget. There is no doubt there will be deep cuts that could lead to a loss of services for some Medicaid reciepients but Health and Human Services Executive.

Commissioner Tom Suehs wants to hold the line on what doctors are paid to see both Medicaid and CHIP patients. “I’m really concerned about having to cut primary care rates for physicians treating children, and specialists.”

He fears another eight percent cut, as proposed, on top of a two percent cut that’s already been enacted would make lots of doctors stop seeing those patients.

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