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"Whispers" That Budget Gap is $28 Billion

Texas State Capitol Building
Photo by Erik Reyna for KUT News

Sen. Kirk Watson is getting some face time in the local media today because of a legislative preview he held this morning at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. KXAN says Watson called on Texas Comptroller Susan Combs to release detailed numbers on the state's finances.

Then Watson suggested the budget gap could be as high as $28 billion dollars, reports the Dallas Morning News. Even the most dismal of previous estimates had topped out at $25 billion.

The $28 billion figure set off Mike Levy, a former publisher of Texas Monthly magazine whose email list includes many people influential in local and state politics.

Most local elected officials here have not accepted the fiscal reality that is about to bite, and bite very, very hard, and that quite possibly will put the Austin area into a deep recession. Let’s start with the very real fact that in the upcoming session, the Texas Legislature will be facing a $25 Billion deficit.....although the whisper around the Capitol is now $28 Billion. This means that there are going to be significant layoffs of state employees, and a disproportionate percentage of these employees live in and around Austin. 

We reported on this last week when Austin topped a Newsweek list of cities poised for economic recovery. The accolade was nice, but it neglected to acknowledge the looming possibility that job cuts could come deep and hard to the seat of state government when the axe falls on the budget.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.