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Top Morning Stories January 19, 2011

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Photo by Erik Reyna for KUT News.
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A draft state budget released Tuesday would make deep cuts to almost every area of state spending.

Texans now have a better idea about what lawmakers plan to cut from the state's budget.  A first draft House budget was released last night.  The $156.4 billion budget for 2012-2013 doesn't raise taxes or tap into the state's rainy day fund.  But cuts would be made to almost every area of spending.   Here are just some of the highlights:

  • Cuts to public education mean school districts would lose $9.8 billion owed to them under current school finance laws.  That’s in part because the proposed budget doesn’t include money for student enrollment growth or expected declines in property values
  • Medicaid provider rates, such as for doctors and hospitals, would be cut by 10 percent
  • Higher education funding (including financial aid cuts) would be cut by about $1.7 billion
  • The Higher ed cuts include at least $700 million in cuts to state colleges and universities
  • The budget proposal shows over 9,600 state jobs would be cut by 2013. 

 Our political reporting partner, the Texas Tribune, has posted a link to the Legislative Budget Board's draft House budget.

State Incentive Funds

The fund Governor Rick Perry uses to lure businesses to Texas would get a boost under the proposed draft budget.  The Texas Enterprise Fund would increase from about $70 million to about $150 million.  But the state's Emerging Technology Fund would be cut by more than $100 million.

No New Taxes (so far), But Fees Would go up

KUT had previously reported that while Republican leaders have been promising no new taxes this legislative session, the state likely would raise some fees.  And the House preliminary budget released last night proposes millions of dollars in new fees.  From the Associated Press:

State employees and retirees who smoke would pay a $30-a-month "tobacco user monthly premium surcharge," raising an estimated $42 million for the budget.      There are also several new fees, worth about $28 million, that would be imposed by the Texas Attorney General's office, among them an "annual child support service fee," a "monthly child support processing fee," an "electronic filing of documents fee," and a "comprehensive development agreement review fee."