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Politics

Texas House Cuts To Cover Current Shortfall

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Photo by KUT

The Texas House passed a bill today to that would reduce funding to state agencies and institutions of higher education by a total of $1.5 billion for the rest of this fiscal year. The cuts address a $4.5 billion shortfall the state is facing for FY 2011, which ends on August 31st.

House Appropriations Chair Jim Pitts proposed House Bill 4. It includes “all the money needed to pay off the state's obligations,” he said. It's connected with another bill,  House Bill 275, that will be laid out today, which would withdraw $3.2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund.

The $4.5 billion shortfall is just a drop in the bucket compared to the estimated $27 billion over the 2012-13 biennium.

Although a gaggle of amendments were brought up during the hearing, the version of the bill that passed is pretty much the same as when it hit the floor. Democrats proposed amendments to reduce cuts to public education and health and human services, suggesting money could be siphoned from the Governor Rick Perry’s housing funds and his economic development fund. Republicans rejected the amendments on party line votes.

Approximately $1.3 billion of the reductions would be from general revenue funds, about $172.0 million from general revenue-dedicated funds, and $4.3 million from federal funds

With the present fiscal year’s shortfalls almost taken care of, legislators move on to debating where cuts will happen in the next biennium. The next step will be determining how much of the $9.4 billion Rainy Day Fund will be used.

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