Don’t get your hopes up says Texas GOP - UPDATED

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Taxes, The Budget at 4:07 pm by wcnews

The GOP in Texas is trying their best to make sure no one gets their hopes up about the budget situation for the next biennium. While the state is bringing in much more tax money then it was two years ago, they want to make sure everyone knows they don’t see that as good news necessarily. They seem to be trying to sell a scenario that while the economy may be much better then it was two year ago, it could all go south again in a hurry. Via DMN, Texas tax revenue grows, but downturn could be coming, officials warn.

The state’s economy has improved, giving lawmakers’ breathing room on the next budget, state officials said Friday. But a downturn could be around the corner, and meeting state needs will still be a challenge.

They want to make sure that everyone knows, no matter how good things get, the money won’t be use to fund public and higher education, Medicare, Medicaid, and so on in the upcoming session.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, said next year’s legislative session will still be challenging, though, because it will take about $9 billion more to write the next two-year budget than the last. Lawmakers need to plug a $4.7 billion hole in Medicaid, pay $2 billion to cover enrollment increases in public schools and try to ease cuts to schools’ budgets made last year. They’ll also have to pass a $5 billion emergency spending bill, mostly to cover Medicaid costs they didn’t fund last year. So they have about $14 billion they need to find or cut, with about $8.1 billion available in the rainy day fund and a possible surplus of $5 billion in tax revenue. “So, serious challenges,” said Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas.

The regressives in Texas are all about taking away things the public, and tax payers want, and making sure that the wealthy are not taxed, in any way, more then they are today. The GOP regressives in Texas have no intention of putting back what was taken last session, only in taking away the gains the people made in the 20th century.

[UPDATE]: There’s been very little reporting on the LBB meeting last week. Here’s another take from Texas AFT, State Revenue Picture Grows Brighter—a Chance to Restore Education Funding.

“There’s good news in today’s report from the comptroller’s office to the Legislative Budget Board on the state’s revenue situation. Billions of dollars more than the comptroller previously forecast are flowing into the state’s treasury, thanks to a fast-growing economy–and these dollars can be used to undo deeply damaging cuts to public education as well as other core state services enacted last year.

“Legislative leaders tried to tamp down expectations today, greeting the remarkably good news about rebounding revenue with maximum feasible gloom. Perhaps they didn’t want to admit one implication of the updated revenue picture, which is that cuts they portrayed as a regrettable necessity last session were actually not necessary.

“In any case, looking ahead to next session, the comptroller’s report clearly shows legislators will have significant resources available to restore funds cut from our public schools. Instead of demanding contingency plans for additional cuts in 2014-2015, the Legislative Budget Board and the governor’s budget office should start making contingency plans to set priorities for restoring funds to meet basic needs, such as for pre-kindergarten classes and per-pupil aid to school districts.

“The comptroller’s spokesman testified that a ‘strong recovery from recession’ already has produced several billion dollars more than the comptroller estimated, and continuing gains are expected through the end of the current budget period in August 2013. We’re also seeing rapid growth in the state’s reserve fund (the Economic Stabilization Fund, a.k.a. Rainy Day Fund), which the comptroller says will make another $8.1 billion available by August 2013.

“The comptroller’s spokesman refused to speculate about still more revenue gains in the upcoming 2014-2015 budget period, citing possible slowing economic growth and other ‘headwinds’ that could affect state revenue. But he also said that the prospect as of now is that the Texas economy will still be strong and ‘the revenue picture is going to be good.’

“In fact, based on the data on Texas income and economic activity reported by the comptroller’s office, even if the Texas economy cools off somewhat in 2014-2015, it is reasonable to expect substantial new revenue over and above the gains acknowledged today, both inside and outside of the Rainy Day Fund.

“The bottom line is that next session lawmakers will have the means—if they have the will—to reverse needless cuts enacted last year and restore funding for Texas schoolchildren.”

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