The center's work on state budget issues helps policy makers, advocates, the media, and the general public understand the effect that Texas' two-year budget will have on low- and moderate-income families.

Recent Budget Publications

Texas Funding for Schools Much Lower Than Before Recession (09/4/2012)

In response to the Great Recession, the Legislature chose to make extensive cuts to school funding instead of using the Rainy Day Fund to protect Texas school children, putting the state’s economy and long-term prosperity in jeopardy.

State and local funding for preK-12 education is 11.2 percent below 2008 levels in Texas after adjusting for student growth and inflation, according to a report released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-partisan policy research organization based in Washington, D.C.

Joint Budget Hearings Now Under Way at the Capitol (08/27/2012)

On August 22, the first Legislative Budget Board-Governor’s Office public hearing on funding requests for the 2014-15 biennium was held at the Capitol. These hearings will continue through September and are the one opportunity for the public to comment on budget proposals for education, health care, and other critical state services before the regular legislative session starts in January 2013. This paper contains the scheduled hearings for the agencies overseeing key state services for low- and moderate-income Texans, and all of us.

Statement: National Task Force Calls for Reform of State Tax and Budget Systems (07/17/2012)

Texas one of six states studied in detail

(AUSTIN, Texas)"The State Budget Crisis Task Force, a national blue-ribbon group convened by Richard Ravitch and Paul Volcker to study state tax and budget issues, released its recommendations today at a press conference in Washington, D.C.  Texas was one of six states studied in detail. We have closely followed the work of the task force.  Several of its recommendations are important for our state.

Texas' Budget Process Moves Further Away From Reality (06/25/2012)

On June 4, the Governor’s Budget Office and the Legislative Budget Board issued budget instructions to state government agencies, state courts, and public higher education institutions. For most state services, these instructions define the General Revenue (GR) baseline for the coming 2014-15 biennium at the reduced funding levels established by the 2011 session’s budget cuts. Because these instructions do not allow the baseline to grow enough to cover population growth or cost inflation " what “current services” proposals would require " they keep Texas on the wrong path by concealing the true consequences of an ever-growing population. Agencies and universities must also describe how they would cut GR spending by another 10 percent. The Legislature will use the baseline proposals to write the draft budget bill it will consider in 2013.

Statement: Budget Coalition's Plan Unworthy of Boldest and Grandest State (03/20/2012)

Executive Director F. Scott McCown on Texans for a Conservative Budget Coalition’s “Real Texas Budget Solutions: 2013 and Beyond.”

Time Proves State’s Refusal to Spend Rainy Day Fund Misguided; What We Should Do Now and for the Future (02/21/2012)

During the legislative session, we recommended that the state spend the Rainy Day Fund to prevent damaging cuts to vital state services, particularly public education. The Rainy Day Fund is a constitutional fund designed to save money in good times to pay ongoing expenses during bad times when revenue is short. After the economy improves, and revenue rebounds, general revenue once again pays for ongoing expenses. During the 2011 legislative session, with billions available for appropriation from the Rainy Day Fund, the state had no need to cut spending on public education"the proven path to good-paying jobs. Unfortunately, the state cut public education spending by $5.3 billion.

President’s Budget Would Reduce Deficits Without Harming Recovery or Poor and Middle Class (02/14/2012)

The center on the President’s budget released yesterday:

“The center applauds the President’s budget for the significant progress that it would make toward reducing deficits without undermining our economic recovery or balancing the budget on the backs of the poor and middle class."

Year in Review: 2011 Annual Report (01/24/2012)

2011 was a big year, with a fierce battle at the Capitol for Texas children and famillies, numerous honors and awards, the release of our Better Texas Film, and our 25th Anniversary Legacy Luncheon, where we announced we will be expanding to a new space on North Lamar.

Undermining the Texas Economy: The 2012-13 Texas State Budget (12/19/2011)

This report analyzes our state’s new budget, focusing on areas that are especially important to low- and moderate-income Texans. The report looks at both “General Revenue” spending (revenue that is primarily from state taxes) and “All Funds” spending (which also includes federal revenue, general revenue that is statutorily dedicated to a specific program, and “Other” legally earmarked revenue such as State Highway or Property Tax Relief funds).

Statement on Comptroller's Revised Revenue Estimate (12/13/2011)

Senior Fiscal Analyst Dick Lavine on the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts revised revenue estimate released yesterday.

“To meet the needs of all Texans for education"the proven path to better jobs"and health and human services"vital protection for Texas families"our state must reform its out-of-date revenue system."

Statement: CPPP Urges Texas Congressional Delegation to Vote Against Extreme Balanced Budget Amendment Coming to the Floor Next Week (11/11/2011)

Executive Director F. Scott McCown on a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Statement on Reducing the Federal Deficit (10/7/2011)

Executive Director F. Scott McCown regarding what should be done by the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the “supercommittee”). The Budget Control Act requires the committee to propose by October 14 a way to reduce the federal deficit by $1.2 to $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years.

“For the good of the country, the committee needs to succeed. But success requires a balanced package that combines selected revenue increases with careful spending cuts. A cuts-only approach would devastate low- and moderate-income Americans because it would mean severe cuts in critical areas like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

“Our state would be among those hit hardest by a cuts-only approach because we have so many low-income families. Doing nothing would also be hard on Texas because it would trigger automatic cuts, including to defense. Texas benefits from significant federal spending, including from military bases and defense contracting. Most important, though, is that doing nothing would leave the country with an unsustainable imbalance between revenue and spending."

The 2012-13 Budget for Child Protective Services: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (06/9/2011)

In a brutal budget session, child protective services (CPS) fared better than most state services for 2012-13. The proposed rate cuts for foster care and adoption payments were not implemented and some caseload growth for these programs was funded. At this funding level, CPS hopes to move forward with its proposal to redesign foster care to help children move to permanency faster. With the budget, CPS can actually start hiring new staff to work with children and families at the start of state fiscal year 2012. Finally, funding for families services was maintained at 2010-11 levels.

But the overall budget for CPS is 10 percent less than what CPS estimated it needed for the biennium to help families affected by child abuse and neglect. Caseload growth for family services was not funded and statewide intake staff, adoption services, and child abuse and neglect prevention programs were cut. The specifics are discussed below.

How to Improve School Finance Plan on the House Floor (06/7/2011)

At the end of the regular session, the Legislature was poised to pass SB 1811, a fiscal matters bill that included rewriting the state’s school finance laws, when the clock ran out. Because the Legislature underfunded schools in the state budget by $4 billion from what current law says schools need to meet the state’s educational goals, the Legislature now must devise a new school finance plan to determine how much each school district is to receive.

On Thursday, when it takes up SB 1, the House will again confront the question of how to distribute $4 billion in cuts to schools. SB 1 is essentially SB 1811 all over again. Based upon discussions in the House Appropriations Committee, we anticipate several floor amendments to SB 1 that would significantly improve this legislation and set the stage for progress in the next session. In this short paper, we explain the problems in SB 1 and how they can be mitigated by floor amendments.

Statement on the State Budget for 2012-13 (05/26/2011)

Executive Director F. Scott McCown released the following statement today in response to the budget committee conferees agreeing on the state budget for 2012-13.

“If the Legislature adopts this budget, the Legislature will have failed to meet the needs of Texas.

“The far right’s demand that our state’s revenue crisis be addressed by cuts alone instead of through a balanced approach that uses the Rainy Day Fund and adds new revenue has forced damaging cuts to essential state services. For the present biennium, 2010-11, the state’s general revenue budget totals $90 billion (roughly $82 billion in state general revenue and $8 billion in federal recovery dollars). To provide the same public services in 2012-13, because of more people and higher costs, the Legislature would have to spend at least $99 billion in general revenue. The conferees’ budget deal (with HB 4) would appropriate just under $80.7 billion, leaving the state short more than $18 billion"about $5 billion of which would have gone to public education.

“A balanced approach was the better choice."

CPPP on School Finance (05/23/2011)

As the session draws to a close, the Legislature must make adjustments in the state’s school finance plan because the Legislature is underfunding current law by close to $4 billion. In essence, the Legislature must determine how to distribute $4 billion in cuts to school districts.

At this point, the vehicle for making changes is Senate Bill (SB) 1581, which Representative Aycock is carrying in the House. Earlier the Senate amended SB 1581 to include SB 22 by Senator Shapiro, commonly called the Hybrid Plan. Now the House must decide whether to keep Shapiro’s Hybrid Plan or amend SB 1581 by replacing the Hybrid Plan with either the Hochberg plan (which eliminates Target Revenue but keeps all program weights the same as current law) or the Eissler pro-ration amendment (an across-the-board cut to Target Revenue).

CPPP urges House members to adopt the Hochberg plan as the principled way to distribute $4 billion in cuts and as the best way to ensure adequate support for public education in years ahead.

Statement on Fiscal Matters and Revenue Estimate (05/18/2011)

“Today the House takes up fiscal matter bills that will determine whether the Legislature can write a budget in the 12 days remaining in the session.The House should encourage its budget conferees to accept the Senate budget, and the House should make the money available to do so through the fiscal matters bills.

“While the Comptroller’s new revenue estimate makes $1.2 billion more available, the conference committee needs that money plus everything in the fiscal matters bills to fund the Senate budget, allowing the Legislature to minimize damaging cuts to public education, higher education, and health and human services.

“At the end of the day, if the House remains short of revenue to fund the Senate budget, we again call on the House to use more of the Economic Stabilization Fund. The Comptroller’s new revenue estimate forecasts another $300 million available for appropriation, and knowledgeable experts suggests that the fund may grow even more. We urge the House to be open to using the Rainy Day Fund to close a budget deal.”

CPPP Sums Up the Case for Using the Rainy Day Fund for 2012-13 (05/18/2011)

Executive Director F. Scott McCown sums up the case for using the Rainy Day Fund for 2012-13:

“Texans aren’t supposed to protect the Rainy Day Fund. The Rainy Day Fund is supposed to protect Texans. Voters created the Rainy Day Fund by constitutional amendment in 1988 to offset unforeseen falls in state revenue just like the state faces now. The Legislature should use the Rainy Day Fund to bridge the revenue hole created by the Great Recession."

Budget Bills Short on Health Care for Texans (05/12/2011)

The Texas House and Senate have adopted two different budget bills, and a conference committee has begun to work out a compromise budget.

Both chambers provide less money for Texas health and human services than was budgeted in 2010-2011. But the Senate’s version of the budget provides substantially more money for health care and social services than the House version.

Open Letter to Budget Conferees and Action Alert (05/11/2011)

The House and Senate have each appointed members to the conference committee that will write the final state budget. We urge you to contact the conferees and ask them to write the best possible budget for Texas. CPPP is urging the conferees to at least write a budget as good as the Senate budget.

Budget Reality Check (05/5/2011)

Two years ago, several groups sent a letter to the Texas Legislature urging the Legislature to save the Rainy Day Fund “to address future potential shortfalls as a consequence of the current economic downturn.” Now the same groups have sent a letter to the Texas Senate opposing the use of the Rainy Day Fund to address the current $27 billion shortfall caused in large part by the economic downturn.

These groups have lost touch with reality.The agenda of these extremists is not to save the Rainy Day Fund but to permanently reduce state spending in service to their agenda of ever lower taxes. Instead of pretending otherwise, these groups should just say what they really mean"they don’t care.

Statement on the Senate's State Budget for 2012-13 (05/4/2011)

Executive Director F. Scott McCown's statement in response to the Senate adopting its version of the state budget for 2012-13.

List of $30 Billion in Revenue Options (05/3/2011)

A list of potential new revenue to balance a state budget.

Budget Reality Check (05/3/2011)

Two years ago, several groups sent a letter to the Texas Legislature urging the Legislature to save the Rainy Day Fund "to address future potential shortfalls as a consequence of the current economic downturn." Now the same groups have sent a letter to the Texas Senate opposing the use of the Rainy Day Fund to address the current $27 billion shortfall caused in large part by the economic downturn.

These groups have lost touch with reality.The agenda of these extremists is not to save the Rainy Day Fund but to permanently reduce state spending in service to their agenda of ever lower taxes. Instead of pretending otherwise, these groups should just say what they really mean"they don't care.

Overview of the Senate Budget Proposal (CSHB 1) for 2012-13 (05/3/2011)

The Senate Finance Committee (SFC) proposed budget for 2012-13 would reduce All Funds and General Revenue support for state services by 5% compared to 2010-11 (after including a $2 billion delayed Foundation School Program payment and $3 billion from the Rainy Day Fund). In a state that is already near the bottom in state spending per resident, the implications of these reductions are even worse when Texas's growing population and rising health care costs are taken into account. In "current services" terms, the SFC budget proposes General Revenue cuts of 13% overall, and would leave billions of federal dollars for health care and other social services unmatched.

CPPP Statement on Lt. Governor Dewhurst and Senate Finance Committee's Proposed State Budget (04/27/2011)

(AUSTIN, Texas)─Center for Public Policy Priorities Executive Director F. Scott McCown released the following statement today in response to comments made yesterday by Lt. Governor Dewhurst on the use of the Rainy Day Fund by the Senate Finance Committee in its version of the state budget for 2012-13.

“One week ago today we applauded Lt. Governor Dewhurst and the Senate Finance Committee for their valiant attempt to write the best state budget possible given the Great Recession and the political climate. Yesterday in comments to the press, however, the Lt. Governor disavowed the committee budget saying he “disagreed” with the committee’s use of the Rainy Day Fund.

“Unfortunately there is no path to an acceptable budget that does not use billions more from the Rainy Day Fund. In light of Lt. Governor Dewhurst’s position, we turn from applause to jeers. We urge every Senator to vote no to bring the budget up for debate. If the budget comes up for debate, we urge every Senator to vote no. There is no reason to support a budget that the Lt. Governor won’t help defend in conference.

“Unless the Lt. Governor and the Speaker make a decision to stand up to the Governor and to the far right, we see no good outcome to our state’s budget struggle.

“We urge Texans to call upon Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and Speaker Joe Straus to disavow the know-nothings trying to wreck Texas and to provide the leadership Texas needs to cope with the aftermath of the Great Recession.”

Testimony: SB 68 Strengthens State Contracting Practices (04/26/2011)

The Center for Public Policy Priorities supports Senate Bill (SB) 68, which would establish sensible contracting standards to ensure that state agencies make informed decisions when outsourcing state services or assets. We want to thank Senator Zaffirini for her hard work in developing this comprehensive approach to strengthening state contracting practices. SB 68 establishes the same standards for business analysis and planning that you would use in your own company to get the most out of outsourcing. We urge you to pass this legislation today.

Statement on Senate Finance Committee’s Proposed State Budget for 2012-13 (04/20/2011)

Executive Director F. Scott McCown released a statement in advance of the Senate Finance Committee voting this week on its version of the state budget for 2012-13.

How is Your County Affected by the State Budget? (04/16/2011)

Below is CPPP's county-by-county analysis of the 2012-13 state budget for major essential services, such as health and human services, public education, and higher education.

Testimony: House Bill 13 Strips Medicaid Protections from Most Vulnerable Texans (04/14/2011)

House Bill 13 by House Public Health Committee Chairman Lois Kolkhorst would direct The Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner to seek a “waiver” of federal law to dramatically restructure the Texas Medicaid program. In laying out the Committee Substitute for her bill, Chairman Kolkhorst identified a recent Rhode Island “1115 waiver” as a model for what Texas might seek. CPPP testified in opposition to the bill. Our testimony details our objection to overly broad terms of the bill that do not give any guarantee of protections for current beneficiaries, covered populations and services. We detail a list of specific provisions which would prevent the concept from being workable in Texas without substantial additional changes to Texas law and protections for Medicaid’s vulnerable population of children, seniors, Texans with disabilities, and expectant mothers.

Statement on House's Proposed State Budget: Refusing to Use the Rainy Day Fund for 2012-13 Is Unconscionable (04/3/2011)

Executive Director F. Scott McCown made the following statement in response to the House passing House Bill 1, its proposed state budget for 2012-13.

CPPP Defends LBB Dynamic Model of Proposed Budget from Attack by TTARA (03/30/2011)

On March 29, 2011, Dale Craymer of the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association wrote Chairman Pitts criticizing the Legislative Budget Board’s dynamic impact statement for Committee Substitute House Bill (CSHB) 1, suggesting that it is not a useful tool for evaluating the proposed budget. In fact, the dynamic impact statement is a very useful tool and suggests that an alternative that takes a balanced approach using rainy day dollars and adding new revenue is preferable to CSHB 1. As we explain briefly in this letter, spending rainy day dollars from the Economic Stabilization Fund to avoid cuts in state spending is a way to increase revenue without a tax increase, and there are other ways to increase revenue that are better for the economy than cutting state spending.

Top 5 Reasons to Reject CSHB 1— Proposed Budget for 2012-13 (03/29/2011)

On Friday, April 1, 2011, the House is scheduled to debate and vote on the Appropriation Committee’s proposed state budget for 2012-13, officially the Committee Substitute to House Bill (CSHB) 1. We have prepared a short summary of the top five reasons to reject CSHB 1.

Analysis and Charts on the House Appropriation Committee’s Budget Proposal for 2012-13 (03/25/2011)

The House Appropriation Committee’s proposed budget for 2012-13 would reduce total funding for state services by 12 percent compared to 2010-11, and by 14 percent for the General Revenue part of the budget. In a state that is already near the bottom in state spending per resident, the implications of cuts are even worse when Texas’s growing population and rising health care costs are taken into account.

CPPP Urges Rejection of House Bill (HB) 1 and Support for HB 4 and HB 275 (03/24/2011)

Executive Director F. Scott McCown made a statement in response to the House Appropriations Committee recommendation of House Bill (HB) 1, the proposed state budget for 2012-13; HB 4, which would revise the state budget for 2011; and HB 275, which would appropriate $3.2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund to fund 2011 appropriations.

Statement on Governor Rejecting Use of Rainy Day Fund for 2012-13 (03/15/2011)

F. Scott McCown made the following statement in response to the Governor’s claim that he will not sign a 2012-13 budget that uses any of the $6.2 billion remaining in the Rainy Day Fund after using $3.2 billion to cover the 2011 deficit.

CPPP Writes Tea Party Advisory Committee (02/28/2011)

CPPP addresses the Tea Party Advisory Committee about why spending all the Rainy Day Fund is the right thing to do.

Using the Rainy Day Fund to Ensure our Recovery and Prosperity (02/21/2011)

Texas faces a devastating revenue shortfall. We are about $18 billion short of being able to maintain spending at its current level and at least $27 billion short of being able to maintain services at their current level. Whichever way you look at it, we face a larger revenue shortfall than during the last recession in 2003 and even larger than during the global energy price collapse in the 1980s.

A cuts-only approach to dealing with a shortfall this large would undermine our economic recovery and threaten our future prosperity. Instead, we need a balanced approach, one that includes using our Rainy Day Fund to minimize damaging cuts to critical public services such as education. As part of a balanced approach,the Rainy Day Fund can cover about a third of the shortfall. This paper explains how the fund works and why it should be used.

Overiew of HB 1 and SB 1 as Introduced (02/18/2011)

The proposed budgets do not begin to meet the needs of Texas, as this new analysis from CPPP shows. CPPP provides (1) an overview of House Bill (HB) 1, (2) an overview of Senate Bill (SB) 1, and (3) a comparison of the current budget, HB 1, SB 1, and the cost of current services.

Proposed Medicaid Cuts More Than Seven Times Deeper Than 2003 (02/16/2011)

Medicaid funding proposed in HB l is estimated by the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) as falling $18 billion (All Funds) below the amount need to maintain current benefits, provider fees, and eligibility standards. This underfunding would be more than 7 times the depth of the disastrous 2003 Medicaid and CHIP cuts. While delivery reforms and best practices can and should be aggressively implemented, the best program improvements combined cannot achieve savings anywhere near the $7.6 billion GR shortfall. The Legislature should begin immediately looking for ways to mitigate the damage to our state’s most vulnerable through a balanced approach to balancing the budget that looks to savings and new revenues, not a cuts-only approach.

Governor’s State of the State Unrealistic; We Need a Balanced Approach to Meeting the Needs of Texas (02/8/2011)

Center for Public Policy Priorities Executive Director F. Scott McCown gave the following statement in response to the Governor’s State of the State address today to a joint session of the House and Senate.

“When the Governor signed the current budget into law, after using his line-item veto to cut everything he considered unnecessary, the Governor assured Texans we had a lean budget that targeted our priorities, saying: ‘We worked collectively throughout the session to ensure our state’s priorities were met while remembering that every dollar spent is that of a hard-working Texan.’

“Now we are $27 billion short of being able to fund these very same priorities at the same lean level over the next two years. With a revenue shortfall this large, the Governor needs to be realistic and the Legislature needs to take a balanced approach that includes using all the Rainy Day Fund and adding new revenue."

Proposed Texas Children's Budget for 2012-2013 (02/3/2011)

A brief analysis focusing on House Bill 1’s proposed 13 percent overall cut (from 2010-11 levels) to services that primarily benefit children. Much of the decrease is due to the failure to restore General Revenue to services that were temporarily supported in 2010-11 by federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.

CPPP Appeals to Business Leaders in Letter by Former Lt. Governor Hobby and CPPP's McCown (01/31/2011)

In a letter sent Tuesday, February 1, 2011, to the chairs of the board of directors and the president/CEOs of approximately 500 chambers of commerce in Texas, former Lt. Governor William P. Hobby and CPPP Executive Director F. Scott McCown urge business leaders to help address a challenge facing Texas that imperils our economic recovery and future prosperity"how to cope with a devastating state revenue shortfall.

A Call to Action to the Superintendents of Texas (01/27/2011)

Center for Public Policy Priorities Executive Director F. Scott McCown issued the following call to action to the superintendents of Texas.

"We have no reason for pessimism but pessimism itself.

"Texas can meet the challenge of our state’s revenue crisis, which has left us at least $27 billion, or 27 percent, short of being able to provide services at their current level, but doing so requires a balanced approach that includes using all of our Rainy Day Fund and adding new revenue. In a democracy"where the most important election is always the next election"if citizens demand a balanced approach, the Legislature will take a balanced approach. All that stands between us and a pragmatic response to this crisis is the sort of pessimism that leads to doing nothing."

Proposed State Budget Shows Need for a Balanced Approach to Meeting Needs of Texas (01/18/2011)

Center for Public Policy Priorities Executive Director F. Scott McCown made the following statement in response to the proposed House budget bill released late today.

“Late today the proposed House budget bill was released. The proposed budget is merely a starting point for hearings and debate leading to the official state budget, but we already know that the cuts-only approach taken in the proposed bill would hurt Texas families, cost us jobs, and undermine our economic recovery."

Statement From F. Scott McCown on the Comptroller's Revenue Estimate (01/10/2011)

Center for Public Policy Priorities Executive Director F. Scott McCown made the following statement in response to today’s release of the biennial revenue estimate by the Comptroller.

“Today the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts delivered her constitutionally required biennial revenue estimate. While she projects continuing economic recovery, her forecast shows a $4.3 billion deficit in the current budget and only $5 billion more in General Revenue for the upcoming two fiscal years than in the current biennium adjusted for the deficit. When increased population and higher costs are taken into account, Texas is at least $26.8 billion short of the General Revenue needed to provide for current services into the next biennium. In other words, we are short by at least 25 percent.

Texas Tsunami: Falling Revenues, Rising Needs Mean Proposed Budget Cuts Just the First Wave (01/3/2011)

Texas is suffering from a devastating collapse in revenues. State leaders order cuts to spending, even while Texans’ needs grow. Throughout 2010, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and House Speaker have asked state agencies to propose a series of reductions to General Revenue (GR) spending─5 percent in 2010-11, 10 percent in 2012-13, and most recently, on December 7, 2010, an additional 2.5 percent cuts for 2011. Because state sales taxes and other tax collections have only recently started to grow compared to the previous year, state leaders expect the current budget to end with a $3 to $4 billion revenue shortfall. Combine this with growing needs, falling local property values, and uncertainty about the 2012-13 biennial revenue estimate, and the revenue shortfall through 2013 could approach $25 to $30 billion.

Writing the Texas Budget for 2012 and 2013 (08/31/2010)

The Texas Legislature will convene on Tuesday, January 11, 2011, for the 82nd Regular Session. For essential state services to continue in 2012 and 2013, the Legislature must pass a state budget before adjourning. This Policy Page explains the process of writing the 2012-13 budget and how you can participate to ensure a budget aligned with your values"a budget that invests in the critical public services and structures necessary to create opportunity and prosperity.

A Balanced Approach to Meeting the Needs of Texas (08/25/2010)

CPPP Executive Director Scott McCown, Senior Fiscal Analyst Dick Lavine, and Senior Budget Analyst Eva DeLuna Castro show how a balanced approach to balancing the state's budget will meet of the needs of Texas today and tomorrow.

School Boards and Superintendents Need to Call Upon Governor to Act by September 9 to Gain $830 Million (08/16/2010)

In the Education Jobs Fund, Congress set aside approximately $10 billion for states for public education for 2010-11.  You can read the legislation and administrative guidance on the U.S. Department of Education’s website under Education Jobs Fund.  This money is extremely important for Texas public schools.  We urge school boards and superintendents to call upon the Governor to request Texas’ share of this money before the September 9 deadline.

Congress Provides $830 Million for Texas Schools, but Governor Must Act (08/11/2010)

On August 10, Congress set aside approximately $10 billion for states to spend to save public school teachers’ jobs. Saving jobs helps today’s economy and protecting education helps tomorrow’s economy. Texas’ share of the total is about $830 million. The U.S. Department of Education estimates that this will pay for about 14,500 Texas teachers and other personnel. As this paper explains, both technical and legal questions must be answered before Texas can draw down its share. But Texas should be able to access these funds to help our schools and economy.

2012-13 Budget Instructions Are Wrong Way To Go: Texas Needs A Balanced Approach (05/28/2010)

On May 27, the Governor’s Budget Office and the Legislative Budget Board issued budget instructions to state government agencies, state courts, and public higher education institutions, setting the baseline for the coming 2012-13 biennium at levels that reflect any General Revenue (GR) cuts already approved to 2010-11 spending. Agencies must also submit information on how they would cut GR spending by another 10 percent.

Statement on Texas Budget Instructions for 2012-13 (05/28/2010)

Yesterday the Governor and the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) began the budget-writing process for 2012-13 by instructing state agencies, courts, institutions of higher education, and health-related institutions to submit proposals that include more deep cuts.

CPPP urges that the state leadership instead take a balanced approach to balancing the state budget by spending all the state’s Rainy Day Fund and raising new revenue, rather than relying solely on reducing services to make ends meet.

CPPP on Texas Public Radio's Texas Matters (04/28/2010)

CPPP Senior Fiscal Analyst Dick Lavine appeared on this week's edition of Texas Matters, where he discussed the best ways for lawmakers to deal with Texas' projected $10-15 billion budget deficit"and how we got here in the first place.

Lessons from the 2003 Session: A Balanced Approach to Balancing the State Budget (04/5/2010)

Many are looking to how legislators dealt with the 2003 budget shortfall for guidance in approaching a similar problem in 2011. For history to be helpful, though, we must accurately remember what happened. The budget shortfall in 2003 was almost $16 billion, not $10 billion, and it was closed with a balanced approach of both cutting spending and increasing revenue. The Legislature should also take a balanced approach in 2011. A balanced approach that includes new revenue is the better choice for Texas. Relying solely on budget cuts leaves critical public structures and systems, such as education and health care underfunded.

Use All of the Rainy Day Fund: A Balanced Approach to Balancing the State Budget (04/5/2010)

Texas should use the Economic Stabilization Fund, commonly called the Rainy Day Fund, to maintain essential services during tough economic times and to stimulate our economy. The constitutional purpose of the fund is to maintain vital state services during economic downturns. The Legislative Budget Board forecasts that the fund will have $9.6 billion available for appropriation through 2012-13. The Legislature has in the past often spent all of the Rainy Day Fund to maintain the state’s investments in critical public structures and systems such as education. It should do so again in 2011.

What Do 5 Percent Budget Cuts Look Like? (03/12/2010)

Concerned that there won’t be enough revenue to fund state services in 2012-13 and cover a $9-billion-plus school finance budget “hole” created in 2006, top state officials have instructed Texas agencies to propose ways to reduce General Revenue (GR) spending by 5 percent in their 2010-2011 budgets. If these cuts can actually be implemented, the need to use the state’s $9.6 billion “Rainy Day Fund” would be reduced, as would the need to find other sources of ongoing revenue.

This Policy Page analyzes some of the proposed cuts in health and human services, workforce and economic development, and higher education. The Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP) recommends a balanced approach that uses the Rainy Day Fund and new sources of state revenue"not just budget cuts alone"to balance the state budget without needless human suffering.

Proposed Budget Reductions for 2010-2011 Biennium (02/11/2010)

CPPP appreciates the evident efforts of agency officials to mitigate harm to clients in proposing these options. We will advocate with our elected officials for Medicaid and CHIP reimbursement cuts to be avoided. CPPP will support use of the Rainy Day Fund and pursuit of new revenue sources to avoid such cuts, and to support ongoing updates to provider rates.

An Open Letter to the Texas Congressional Delegation on State Fiscal Relief (02/4/2010)

The Center for Public Policy Priorities is a member of the State Fiscal Analysis Initiative, and we monitor the state budget closely. While the recession may not be as long or deep in Texas, things are bad. Because of falling tax revenues our state government needs additional fiscal help from Congress to avoid reductions in public services such as education or increases in taxes such as the school property tax. We urge Congress to provide additional state fiscal relief to ensure our state can meet vital needs and our economy fully recovers.

Majority Rule Best Protects Texas (01/6/2010)

Today the Governor proposed two constitutional amendments, a California-style budget and tax restriction based on minority rule and a Colorado-style spending restriction based on an arbitrary formula unrelated to what Texas needs or can afford. Texans are best protected by a representative democracy based on majority rule without arbitrary restrictions. Texas faces many challenges but spending too much is not the problem. Texas ranks near the bottom in state spending. The Texas problem is that low- and moderate-income families pay too much in taxes while the top pays too little. Minority rule and arbitrary spending limits are designed to protect the top, not to protect Texas.

Open Letter from CPPP to Texas Congressional Delegation on State Fiscal Relief (11/19/2009)

CPPP Executive Director Scott McCown sent this open letter to the Texas congressional delegation urging additional state fiscal relief.

Texas Children's Budget for 2010 and 2011 (10/30/2009)

This Policy Point includes estimates of total and nonfederal spending on children in the Texas state budget for 2010 and 2011.

Federal Recovery Act State Budget Update (08/31/2009)

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) is making a vital difference in Texas. Potentially injecting as much as $38 billion into the state economy, ARRA temporarily increases grants to federal, state, or local government agencies while providing tax cuts or tax credits to families and businesses. This Policy Page discusses the importance of the ARRA funds in the Texas state budget for 2010-11--the budget cycle that begins on September 1--and related developments.

Building Texas: The 2010-2011 State Budget (06/24/2009)

Texas needs to make significant public investments in infrastructure and services to ensure our prosperity. Unfortunately, Texas is a low-tax state with a structural deficit. In 2006, the state made its structural deficit worse by pledging to pay for a local school property tax cut. The “hole” or uncovered cost of that tax cut is now almost $10 billion per biennium. To add to the state’s woes, just before the legislative session began in 2009, the country went into a severe economic recession that substantially reduced state tax revenues. Fortunately, the federal government stepped in with Recovery Act funding. Even so, many important projects and programs were left unfunded or inadequately funded. This analysis, Building Texas: The 2010-2011 State Budget, focuses on areas of the budget that are especially important to low- and moderate-income Texans.

CPPP Open Letter to Conferees on Budget (04/28/2009)

Writing the budget for Texas is a challenging and important responsibility. As a policy institute concerned about low-income Texans, we closely study the state’s budget and recommend key improvements. The House and the Senate have already funded many of our priorities in each chamber’s proposed budget. Consequently, we focus our recommendations on unfunded priorities and ways to reconcile differing approaches between the chambers. In part 1, we make three general recommendations regarding state spending. In part 2, we urge additional and important General-Revenue related spending primarily in health and human services. In part 3, we make recommendations regarding budget riders that have no General-Revenue impact. In part 4, we suggest ways to maximize federal TANF spending.

Federal Recovery Act: Impact on Texas & Travis County (04/20/2009)

CPPP Highlights Critical Investments in House Budget (04/20/2009)

Policy institute urges Legislature to keep key provisions intact in final budget

Austin, Texas"The Center for Public Policy Priorities today highlighted several pieces of the Texas House of Representatives’ proposed state budget for their potential benefits to low- and moderate-income families. CPPP encouraged the Texas Senate to adopt similar provisions in the final budget.

Federal Recovery Act: Opportunities for Texas & Tarrant County (04/14/2009)

ARRA and Texas Fact Sheet (04/10/2009)

This two-page Fact Sheet provides information about what Texas could receive from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act spending and tax provisions.

The Texas Recovery Plan (03/25/2009)

Public structures such as Medicaid, Food Stamps, and Unemployment Insurance were created to help families in tough economic times and to help the economy recover from a down cycle. These are indeed tough times"we face the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Tragically, many Texans are becoming aware for the first time of the crumbling nature of many of our public structures, weakened by years of neglect when times were good. Now that times are tough, we find our systems unprepared. Fortunately, though, the new federal economic recovery law makes resources available to help repair and improve these systems, which will in turn energize economic activity and get Texas on the road to recovery.

But, Texas will only get the federal funds"and the needed improvements to our public structures"if state policymakers make the right choices, soon.

CPPP Calls On Texas State Officials to Target Federal Recovery Act Funds to Those Hurt Most by Recession (03/6/2009)

With more than $16 billion in federal recovery spending coming to Texas through state agencies, the Center for Public Policy Priorities urged state policymakers to invest in programs that will give struggling low-income families and unemployed workers new opportunities to succeed economically. CPPP also called on the state to ensure that recovery money helps stabilize the economy and benefits those hurt most by the recession. Spending should be done openly, efficiently and with accountability.

Recommendations to Select Committee on Federal Recovery Funds for March 10-12 Public Hearings (03/5/2009)

On March 5, the House Select Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding began hearing public testimony on the use of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, also called “the stimulus package”) funds in the Texas state budget. ARRA provides billions of dollars to support critical public structures, protect vulnerable Texans during this economic downturn, and set our economy on the road to recovery. This paper summarizes our recommendations for taking full advantage of the benefits in the recovery package.

SB 1: Testimony to the Senate Finance Committee (02/16/2009)

Federal Economic Recovery Legislation and Texas (02/13/2009)

Today, Congress released the details of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which provides $789 billion to stimulate the economy. Many of these measures will also help protect vulnerable Texans during this economic downturn. To take full advantage of the benefits in the recovery package and set our economy on the road to recovery, Texas must plan immediately. We applaud Speaker Joe Straus for appointing the Select Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding, charged with monitoring federal action and suggesting to standing committees needed steps to qualify for federal economic recovery funds. This paper summarizes the portions of the bill that affect the state budget.

When It Rains, Use Your Umbrella (02/10/2009)

Texas should use the Economic Stabilization Fund, commonly called the Rainy Day Fund, to maintain essential services during tough economic times and to stimulate our economy. The state created the fund in reaction to the experience of 1986, when plummeting oil prices required the governor to call a special legislative session to cut the state budget and raise taxes. The constitutional purpose of the fund is to maintain vital state services during economic downturns. The comptroller forecasts that the fund will have $9.1 billion available for appropriation through 2011.

CPPP on the State of the State (01/27/2009)

Today the Governor gave his State of the State Address to the Legislature. Cutting the state budget in the middle of an economic recession would be counterproductive, and more must be done for those who have lost their jobs and for those who have no health insurance. Texas needs a bolder vision.

Health Care in 81st Legislative Session (01/23/2009)

Presentation by Eva DeLuna Castro to the Austin Travis County MHMR Quality Leadership Team on state and national developments affecting funding for community MHMR services.

Legislative Briefing on Budget Issues for 81st Session (01/21/2009)

At a January 21 Capitol briefing sponsored by Methodist Healthcare Ministries, Dick Lavine and Eva DeLuna Castro provided an overview of major revenue and budget issues in the 81st Legislative Session.

Comptroller's Revenue Forecast (01/12/2009)

Today the Comptroller of Public Accounts announced her Biennial Revenue Estimate. The Comptroller forecast $9.1 billion less general revenue to write the budget for 2010-11 than was available for 2008-09. But the Comptroller also forecast $9.1 billion available in the Rainy Day Fund. The 81st Legislature must now write a budget for 2010-11.

Spending cuts would hurt the Texas economy and hurt vulnerable Texans. That means:

  • Texas needs federal fiscal relief;
  • Texas should spend a significant portion of the Rainy Day Fund to protect the state from the full effects of the recession; and
  • Texas should consider new revenue sources.

2010-11 State Budget Developments (10/13/2008)

This brief analysis highlights some of the major demands for additional General Revenue spending in the biennial budget for 2010 and 2011, which state legislators will write during the regular legislative session in 2009.

Policy Development in Texas: The Fiscal Realities (10/11/2008)

This brief document, prepared for the John B. Shepperd Public Leadership Institute, provides some very general information about the state budget and fiscal note process in Texas, as well as the major categories of spending and revenue by level of government"-local, state, and federal.

The Texas Tax and Budget Primer (10/7/2008)

A presentation on "Building Texas: The Tax and Budget Primer, 2008."

Paying for a Better Budget for Texas in 2010 and 2011 (07/30/2008)

The key to adequate funding of essential state services in the 2010-11 state budget is an adequate amount of revenue. Recently we explained the process of writing the 2010-11 budget and how to get involved. This Policy Page highlights some of the potential threats to maintaining state tax revenue and outlines how you can participate to ensure that the state has the money necessary to fund a budget aligned with your values"a budget that invests in critical public programs and structures necessary to create opportunity and prosperity for all Texans.

A Better Budget for Texas in 2010 and 2011 (07/16/2008)

The Texas Legislature will convene on January 13, 2009, for the 81st Regular Session. In order for essential state services to continue in 2010 and 2011, the Legislature must pass a state budget before adjourning. This Policy Page explains the process of writing the 2010-11 budget and how you can participate to ensure a budget aligned with your values"a budget that invests in the critical public programs and structures necessary to create opportunity and prosperity.

The Best Choice for a Prosperous Texas: A Texas-Style Personal Income Tax (06/3/2008)

The quality of life in Texas depends on our producing a well-educated workforce that can meet the demands of a global economy. A strong and vibrant public education for all Texas children is an essential precondition for a prepared workforce and a prosperous, competitive economy. In fact, providing public education is one of the constitutionally mandated charges of the state legislature. However, the state’s current revenue system is not providing adequate funding to fulfill this charge. Adding a personal state income tax to our tax mix is the best way to meet our needs.

Texas Faces a Struggle to Write a Budget That Meets the State's Needs for 2010-11 (05/12/2008)

The state budget funds critical public systems upon which we all depend. Unfortunately, a realistic analysis of both sides of the state’s balance sheet"income and expenses"shows that Texas faces another tight budget in 2010-11. While the state will probably have more available revenue than it did for 2008-09, it will also have more people and higher costs, quickly using up any additional funds. Recently the Speaker of the House suggested that the state might have a $15 billion “surplus” by the end of the biennium, with the Comptroller saying that her most recent estimate projects $10.7 billion. But neither is using the term “surplus” in its ordinary sense. In fact, both estimates include expected balances in the Property Tax Relief Fund, which is already committed to pay for previous tax cuts, and in the Rainy Day Fund, which is reserved for emergencies. In all likelihood, the state will again be unable to fund critical public services without new sources of revenue.

Building Texas: The 2008 Tax and Budget Primer (05/6/2008)

This easy-to-digest booklet on Texas taxes and public spending will help you think about the challenges facing us as Texans. Our public systems and structures"such as our public education systems, courts and criminal justice systems, and transportation networks"help make this a great state, securing the common good for us all. This primer discusses what we need to do to enhance our prosperity and how to pay for it.

NOTE: Booklet version is formatted for two-sided printing. If you can only print one-sided, use "side by side" version.

Texas and the Federal 2009 Budget Proposal (02/1/2008)

On Monday, February 4, the President will issue his 2009 budget, continuing the contentious debate over our nation’s budget priorities. The stakes for Texas are considerable: federal spending in Texas in 2005 totaled nearly $149 billion, more than state and local government spending combined ($122 billion). Recent attention has focused on a federal economic stimulus package, but it is the federal budget that determines whether critical areas ranging from health care to environmental protection to education will be strengthened or weakened next year. Congress may also make tax decisions this year that could have a big impact on the country’s long-term fiscal health.

Call to Action to Improve Economic Stimulus Package (01/30/2008)

The Senate is soon to take up the economic stimulus bill. We have urged our Texas Senators to vote against the House bill to give the Senate an opportunity to produce a better bill. If the House bill is defeated, we have urged our Texas Senators to vote for the proposal from the Senate Finance Committee. If an amendment to the proposal is offered for a temporary boost in food stamp benefits, we have strongly urged our Senators to support the amendment. A temporary boost in food stamp benefits is a particularly good economic stimulus for Texas. Our letter to our Texas Senators is posted here as a Full Article. We urge you to contact each Senator with a strong message to support the Senate Finance Committee proposal and a food stamp amendment. You can contact Senator Hutchison at http://www.senate.gov/~hutchison/contact.html. You can contact Senator Cornyn at http://cornyn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Contact.Home.

Today: Do Your Part to Turn Around the Economy by Signing on to National Letters (01/24/2008)

An effective federal economic stimulus package must target aid to those who will be hardest hit by a recession and who will most quickly boost the economy by spending to support their families. Today, national groups are asking organizations in Texas and other states to sign on to two letters calling for timely, targeted, and temporary assistance to those most in need. The first letter calls on Congress to include (1) an increase in the Medicaid federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP), with a requirement that states must maintain eligibility to qualify for the funds; and, (2) a grant based on population. The second letter urges Congress to boost Food Stamp payments and extend unemployment benefits as part of the stimulus package. The Congressional Budget Office reports that Food Stamps and unemployment insurance would stimulate spending even more quickly than rebates. Congress is reported to have dropped these elements from the stimulus package and would instead boost business tax incentives, which are among the least effective ways to increase economic activity.

Effective Economic Stimulus Package Must be Timely, Targeted, and Temporary (01/23/2008)

The current weakness in the U.S. economy requires a rapid response that targets aid to those who will be hardest hit by a recession. Assistance should reach all working households because they are most likely to immediately put any assistance back into the economy by spending to support their families. This can be accomplished by rebate checks, increased Food Stamp aid, or extension of unemployment insurance, as well as fiscal relief for state governments. Well-designed one-time measures would raise current deficits, but not affect the long-term federal budget outlook. President Bush and congressional leaders are considering various strategies for combatting the growing weakness in the U.S. economy. At the top of their list are rebates for workers, expansion of safety net programs, and tax incentives for businesses. An effective fiscal stimulus is one that is timely, targeted, and temporary.

CPPP's 2007 Annual Report (12/4/2007)

This short annual report lists some of our accomplishments for the year, for example, increasing access to the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and increasing caseworkers for child protection.

Statement by F. Scott McCown on the HB 1 2008-09 Budget Conference Committee Report with County Impact Data (05/25/2007)

"While the budget will spend almost 95% of General Revenue on education, health care, and corrections, too much has been set aside for tax cuts that mostly benefit upper-income families. As a result, many important needs will go unmet, while our tax system grows more unfair. The budget will keep Texas at the bottom in what we invest in our children and how we care for our most vulnerable." Here CPPP has prepared county-level information to illustrate the current and potential impact of state government spending in local communities. More detailed analyses of program-level impacts will be made available as soon as possible.

Act Now to Preserve Future State Budgets (05/3/2007)

On Friday, the House may vote on taking another $2.5 billion from our already inadequate general revenue stream to lower school property tax rates by another 9 cents, down to $0.91 per $100 of value. This would be a straight tax swap"replacing property taxes with state general revenue. Actual spending on education would not increase one cent. You must act now to prevent this diversion of general revenue. Tell your state representative to VOTE NO on HB 2785 by Rep. Paxton, which is on Friday’s calendar. Also tell them to VOTE NO on HJR 44, a proposed constitutional amendment to require a three-fourths vote of the Legislature to raise the rate on the new margins tax, which is also on Friday’s calendar.

CPPP Statement on Governor's Proposal for Additional Property Tax Cuts (05/2/2007)

Today, Governor Perry proposed crippling our state’s ability to build the infrastructure we need by taking another $2.5 billion to pay for an additional school property tax cut. This tax cut would be on top of the tax cut provided in last year’s special session.

Analyses to Help You Prepare for the Conference Committee Budget Debate (05/1/2007)

CPPP has revised its overview of the differences between House and Senate state budget proposals for 2008 and 2009. More detailed side-by-side comparisons for Education, Protective Services, Medicaid/CHIP, Public Health, Assistive & Rehabilitative Services, and Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) are also available. Texas can afford to meet all its needs. Texas has at least $3 billion more in General Revenue that the legislature could appropriate. In addition, the legislature could redirect $1.4 billion in the House and Senate proposals that would only undo past payment deferrals. Undoing these payment deferrals has no purpose except to shelter money to pay for tax cuts after 2009. If the legislature appropriated this entire $4.4 billion to meet today's needs, Texas would still have another $4.3 billion in its Rainy Day Fund to meet an emergency of any sort.

Relying On Dedicated Fees Instead Of State Taxes: The Case of the System Benefit Fund (03/22/2007)

As the House and Senate finish their “mark up” of the proposed state budget for 2008-2009, the fight continues between those wanting to use dedicated funds to balance the General Revenue budget, and those wanting to see dedicated funds spent for their intended purpose. This Policy Page explains this arcane but important budget issue, using the System Benefit Fund as an example. Of course, this issue is yet one more illustration of the true problem facing Texas: a regressive state/local tax system that does not generate enough money to meet our communities’ growing needs for education, health care, and other basic services.

The State Budget and Texans Ages Zero to Three (02/22/2007)

Presentation by Eva DeLuna to foundation officials on what Texas spends on its youngest residents and the prospects for future improvements in Zero to Three programs.

"Current Services" Needs vs. State Budget Proposal for 2008-09 (02/8/2007)

This two-page handout explains how $14.3 billion in additional state general revenue could have been allocated to fund current services in key areas of the 2008-2009 state budget. In contrast, the budget being considered by legislators uses a significant amount of "new" revenue to fund local tax cuts and to undo payment deferrals .

Show Me the Money! (02/5/2007)

Presentation on state budget and tax issues to the 21st Annual Gathering of the Texas Catholic Conference in San Antonio.

Where Did All the Money Go? How Do We Get it Back? (01/30/2007)

Although the comptroller has certified $14.3 billion in “new money” available for appropriation, the budget proposed by the Legislative Budget Board leaves only $2.5 billion in uncommitted revenue " not enough to meet our state’s needs. Half of the new money, $6.9 billion, would be locked up for property tax cuts " $3.9 billion to fund property tax cuts in the 2008-09 budget, plus another $3.0 billion to continue the tax cuts in 2010-11. The proposed budget could be changed in two ways to increase the amount available for other priorities. First, property tax cuts could be limited to only the amount that could be funded with the revenue raised by the 2006 special session. Second, another $1.4 billion could be freed up for appropriation by continuing deferrals of certain payments to schools and social-service providers.

State Budget Surplus: Fact or Fiction (01/24/2007)

Presentation by Eva DeLuna to the Dallas Rotary Club, explaining why the state does not have a multibillion-dollar budget "surplus" for 2008-09 or in the long term.

Where Did the "Surplus" Come From? (01/17/2007)

The Comptroller has announced that the Legislature will have "$14.3 billion in new money to spend in the 2008-09 state budget." This figure is a comparison between the amount of general revenue expected to be available for the coming biennium and the amount being spent in the current biennium. This is not the same as estimating that the state will take in $14.3 billion more in 2008-09 than in 2006-07. In fact, total net revenue to general-revenue-related funds in the next biennium is projected to increase by only $3.2 billion over the current level.

Spending Cap: The Constitutional Spending Limit and School Property Taxes (11/29/2006)

The state’s commitment to reduce school property taxes by one-third in fiscal 2008 has called into play a little-known restriction on state budgeting--the constitutional limit on spending--which limits the amount of state taxes that may be spent. The Legislative Budget Board met November 27 to consider setting the amount of the cap, as required by statute, but adjourned until January without taking action. This Policy Page explains the cap, the restrictions it imposes on the state budgets, and how it should be applied.

Texas State Budget: Bringing it Home to Dallas/Collin/Denton Counties (11/29/2006)

At a meeting hosted by the Dallas Women's Foundation, Eva DeLuna Castro made a presentation on the local impact of state government spending. Information available through the Kids Count project was also described.

Prudent Stewardship of the State's Budget (11/28/2006)

The Speaker has projected $15.5 billion in “surplus funds” for the 2008-09 budget cycle. If “surplus” means “more than we had,” the Speaker may be right. If “surplus” means “more than we need,” then, as this Policy Page explains, we do not have a surplus at all; we are $3 billion short.

CPPP Delivers Legislative Preview and Honors Houston Leaders at William P. Hobby Policy Briefing (10/13/2006)

CPPP delivered a legislative preview on Texas' tax and buget situation at the William P. Hobby Policy Briefing. As part of the briefing, CPPP and Governor Hobby presented Houston Mayor Bill White and Harris County Judge Robert Eckels with the William P. Hobby Visionary Award for their leadership during hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Maximizing Federal Funds: The State Budget (09/27/2006)

Presentation by Eva DeLuna Castro at Houston One Voice Pre-Legislative Forum, focusing on how federal funds in the state budget help pay for social services in Harris County.

New Tax Laws' Effect on the Austin Community (08/8/2006)

Presentation by Eva DeLuna Castro to the Austin chapter of the National Association of Professional Mortgage Women.

CPPP Statement on 10% Budget Cut Instructions (06/7/2006)

Some may be shocked that in less than a month’s time, Texas has gone from having an $8 billion “surplus” to considering 10 percent almost-across-the-board cuts"about $3 billion in General Revenue. The reason is the huge gap between the spending side of what the Legislature approved in the special session ($23 billion more in state funds for K-12 from 2007 to 2009, most of it to pay for local property tax cuts) and what it raised in new revenue ($8.8 billion from 2007 to 2009). Filling the $14 billion hole dug in the special session entirely wipes out the so-called surplus and still requires finding another $6 billion.

Special Session Tax and School-Finance Package Creates $10.5 Billion Deficit (05/15/2006)

The fiscal notes for the tax and school-finance bills passed during the special session reveal a gap of $10.5 billion between the expected costs of HB 1 and anticipated revenues from HB 3, 4, and 5 in 2008-09. This deficit will place tremendous pressure on the next state budget, which could cause severe budget cutbacks, an increase in the state sales tax or other state taxes, an expansion of gambling as a source of revenue, or all of the above.

Call to Action to Protect the State Budget (05/6/2006)

On Friday, the Senate Finance Committee adopted the Williams Amendment to HB 1, which would lower school property taxes to $1.00 per $100 of property valuation for the 2007-08 school year. The more money the state spends to reduce local property taxes, the less money the state can spend on anything else. The Senate may vote on HB 1 as early as Monday afternoon. We urge you to contact your Senator at once, asking him or her to support an amendment to remove the Williams Amendment from HB 1.

Man-Made Fiscal Crisis Worse than 2003: Cutting School Property Taxes to $1.00 (05/5/2006)

Using state revenue to replace school property taxes, cutting tax rates to $1.00 in 2008, would force a 16% cut in state spending subject to the constitutional cap on spending in the 2008-09 budget. Such a cut would needlessly force damaging cuts in vital state services.

Spending Cap: Constitutional Spending Limit and Dedication of New Tax Revenue Limit Ability to Meet Needs (05/1/2006)

Policy Page 263 described the spending needs that are still not a part of the state budget for 2006-07. The latest version of the supplemental appropriations bill, SB 16 by Ogden, identifies $2.95 billion in immediate needs. The state’s ability to respond to these needs, while reducing school property taxes and improving public education, has called into play a little-known restriction on state budgeting " the constitutional limit on spending " which limits the amount available for spending in the current biennium. An additional limit " the dedication of all revenue from tax changes made in the special session to further reducing property taxes " proposed by HB 2 by Pitts would further hamstring the next Legislature in writing the 2008-08 budget. This Policy Page explains the constitutional cap and the proposed dedication and the restrictions they would impose on the current special session and on future state budgets.

Correctly Applying the Spending Cap: How to Reduce Property Taxes, Improve Public Education, (04/28/2006)

Our state constitution imposes a little-known cap on state budgeting"a limit on the spending of tax revenue not dedicated by the Constitution. Because of the cap, even with over $8 billion in unallocated revenue, the legislature is finding it difficult to write a budget that includes additional state dollars to 1) reduce local school property taxes; 2) improve education spending, such as through a teacher pay raise, and 3) pay for supplemental needs in 2006-07. We described needed supplemental spending in Policy Page 263, which analyzes the $2.5-billion Senate Bill 16 (Ogden) as introduced. The SB 16 committee substitute laid out on April 24 has an even larger GR price tag of $3 billion. Reducing school property taxes, increasing education spending, and meeting supplemental needs can all be achieved, if the spending cap is correctly applied. This Policy Page explains the spending cap, how it should be applied, and why this is critically important.

Analysis of Supplemental Appropriations Bills (04/20/2006)

Senate Bills 13 and 16 are scheduled for a public hearing by the Senate Finance Committee on Monday, April 24, at 9:30 a.m. Even though the governor’s call for the third special session is still limited to “school district property tax relief; modifying the franchise tax, motor vehicle sales and use tax, and tobacco product taxes, and an appropriation to the Texas Education Agency,” SB 13, 16, and other bills filed by legislators make it clear that other important matters will have to be resolved before the end of the 2006-07 budget cycle.

$8.2 Billion Is Still Not A Surplus (04/18/2006)

As the third special session of the 79th Legislature began yesterday, the Comptroller of Public Accounts revised the revenue estimate for the 2006-07 biennium, informing legislators that Texas could receive $8.2 billion more in General Revenue than is currently authorized to be spent. (Of this amount, $2.5 billion would be set aside for a constitutionally required transfer to the Rainy Day Fund.) This Policy Page explains why unused GR is so much higher than the $4.3 billion estimated in February 2006. It also explains why even $8.2 billion in unallocated revenue isn’t enough to make significant long-term reductions in local school property taxes, cover supplemental budget needs through August 2007, rebuild the state’s “rainy day fund”, and leave enough room for future revenue growth to adequately fund other state priorities such as higher education, health care, and public safety.

McCown: Plan Won't Meet Texas' Needs: Austin American-Statesman (04/1/2006)

Memento is a great film noir about a man who has lost his short-term memory from a blow to the head while struggling to protect his wife. As he investigates her murder, he must rely on Polaroid photos to remember who his friends are and who his enemies are. Something similar has happened to Texans during our struggles to protect public education and other essential state services. Texans have taken so many blows to the head, it is hard to keep things straight.

CPPP Statement on the Report of the Texas Tax Reform Commission (03/29/2006)

Today, the Texas Tax Reform Commission released its Final Report. We appreciate the commission members who undertook this public service and the leadership of the chair, Mr. John Sharp. Please read on for our statement concerning this report.

Fiscal Problems Facing Texas (02/24/2006)

Scott McCown spoke about the "Problems Facing Texas and the Likelihood of Viable Solutions" at the Texas Community College Teachers Association 2006 Convention.

Federal Budget Update (02/23/2006)

Just before and after the New Year, we called upon you to make your voices heard in opposition to federal budget reconciliation, a process that cut the federal budget, particularly programs for low-income children and families. Despite your spirited efforts, budget reconciliation passed on a very close vote. Shortly after that, the Administration released its proposed budget for FY 2007, suggesting further cuts. CPPP is going to pay increased attention to federal budget issues and let you know about significant research and developments.

Texas Has No Surplus! (02/16/2006)

With a special session on school finance looming, some are interested in buying down local school property taxes using part or all of the $4.3 billion that the Comptroller has said is “available,” thus reducing the need to increase state taxes. This Policy Page explains why the $4.3 billion estimated to be available to fund the 2006-07 budget is not surplus money, and why it would be a bad idea to use any of the $4.3 billion to buy down school property taxes.

For Texas, the President's 2007 Federal Budget Proposal Would Cut Even Deeper, Compounding $40 Billion in Budget Cuts Approved Last Week (02/6/2006)

Federal funding for major programs such as Medicaid, highways, housing, education, and nutrition will be cut if President Bush’s 2007 budget proposal goes into effect, according to a preliminary analysis by the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin.

Feb. 1: U.S. House to Decide Once and For All Whether to Cut Billions in Services (01/25/2006)

On Wednesday, Feb. 1, the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a budget reconciliation bill that would cut billions of dollars from Medicaid, child support enforcement, child care, foster care, Medicare, disability assistance, student loans, and other vital services for families to help fund $70 billion in new tax cuts. The reconciliation bill would also reauthorize the federal welfare block grant (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) through fiscal year 2010, but with changes to the program that could hurt Texas. Act now to oppose the budget cuts!

Special CPPP Message on Federal Budget Reconciliation (12/5/2005)

Uncle Sam needs you to enlist in a national effort to stop “budget reconciliation” by contacting your congressional representative and Texas senators. We have prepared a short message in Q&A form to explain how very much is at stake for low-income Americans in this battle.

State TANF Spending (11/14/2005)

Workshop presentation at "Funding State Services" Conference in Washington, DC, analyzing Texas' spending of TANF federal and state funds over time and compared to other states.

Texas and the TANF Block Grant (11/11/2005)

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant is the sixth largest source of federal funds in the Texas state budget. TANF is second only to Medicaid in the support it provides for state health and human services. This Policy Brief analyzes Texas’ fiscal and policy choices regarding TANF, in light of pending federal reauthorization and mounting federal deficits.

Letter and Background on Federal Budget Reconciliation (10/10/2005)

CPPP has prepared a backgrounder on federal tax cuts, federal spending, the cost of Katrina relief, and federal budget deficits, as well as a letter to Texas' Congressional delegation on these issues.

Call to Action to Stop Spending Cuts for the Poor and Tax Cuts for Wealthy (10/10/2005)

One month ago, as part of a national effort, we asked you to urge your senators and congressional representative not to cut federal spending on critical health and human services such as Medicaid and Food Stamps. Because of your efforts, Congress delayed taking action, but congressional committees are again moving ahead with plans to mark up cuts during the week of October 17, with the Budget Committees slated to package the cuts around October 26, and Congress to consider bills making the cuts shortly thereafter. Please join us and other citizens across the country in a National Call to Action by telling our senators and representatives what we want.

State & Local Gov: Challenges of the Fiscal Relationship (08/5/2005)

Presentation in Dallas by Eva De Luna Castro to National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) Policy Institute on Sustainable Communities, on changes in state and local government sources of revenue/taxes/federal aid.

Partial Restoration of Programs Cut in 2003, Some New Investment: How Medicaid, CHIP, other Health Services Fared in SB 1, the 2006-2007 State Budget (07/11/2005)

The Regular Session of the 79th Texas Legislature has ended and SB 1, the state budget bill for 2006 and 2007 has been passed. The Governor has vetoed certain line items in the budget. The bill incorporates funding to restore some of the Medicaid, CHIP and other health care programs cut by the 2003 Legislature, but leaves some major 2003 cuts unrepaired, and the fate of others up in the air.

CPPP Statement on 2006-07 Budget (SB 1 Conference Report) (05/29/2005)

With the final state budget of $139 billion for 2006 and 2007 nearing approval, some are warning that a 10 percent increase in state spending is too much. Let’s think about this a little differently. Imagine an early spring day somewhere in Texas, with a high of 60°"about average for that time of year. Overnight, a cold front moves in, dropping the temperature to 30°"low enough to kill the most vulnerable plants left out in the cold. The next day, the temperature rises to 50°. Is it a 66 percent increase in temperature, compared to the previous night’s low? Or is it 10° below average?

An Honest Analysis of Proposed State Spending (05/20/2005)

The Dallas Morning News reports that state leaders are being accused by both the left and the right of runaway spending as they finish writing the state’s budget for the next two years. Runaway spending? What hogwash.

How Much Are We Spending? (05/20/2005)

State budget conferees are almost done reconciling the House and Senate’s different proposals for state spending in 2006 and 2007. This Policy Page gives a preview of where spending levels are likely to end up, and provides some benchmarks against which any increases in spending should be compared.

Call to Action on the State Budget (04/25/2005)

The Budget Conference Committee is rapidly finishing marking up the budget. The Senate and House propose to fund (and leave unfunded) different things. Critical services such as Medicaid Adult Benefits and Medically Needy Coverage may not be restored. Now is the time to make your voices heard by contacting the conferees and the leadership. CPPP has sent its recommendations to the conferees. Our memo largely focuses on Article II, but also concerns some other areas. To give you an idea how far off the legislature is from our recommendations, funding everything we recommend--at least, what is in this memo of critical items--would add approximately another $522 million in General Revenue to the House's proposed level of spending and approximately $416 million to the Senate’s.

How the Senate and House Budgets Compare on Medicaid, CHIP, Other Health Services (04/20/2005)

The Senate and House versions of the state budget differ in some important respects in their proposed funding for Medicaid, CHIP and other health care programs (See Policy Page #228 for details on SB 1, the “base” General Appropriations Act for 2006-2007, as first introduced). Soon, the "conference committee" on the state budget will begin to hammer out a final compromise budget for the next two years. Proposed restorations of benefits cut in 2003, funding to reduce waiting lists, and funding simply to allow for population growth and inflation may not survive in the final budget unless the legislature adopts legislation that raises additional revenue to support state government.

Promoting Prosperity for Texas: The Role of State and Local Governments (04/1/2005)

This ten-minute video by Executive Director Scott McCown is designed for you to use to teach others about the funding challenges facing Texas. There's no waiting--the video begins instantly.

The Texas Revenue Primer 2005 (04/1/2005)

Read where the state gets its money and what its revenue options are.

Call to Action on the Budget: Contact Senator Hutchison (02/28/2005)

While our Legislature is trying to write a budget, so is Congress. What Congress does is particularly important to Texas since more than one third of our state budget revenue comes from the federal government.

Critically Important CPPP Call to Action (02/16/2005)

Forget any reassuring news you may have heard about the state having a small budget "surplus." The truth is that the state budget as introduced leaves health and human services short by at least $2 billion.

Update: What's NOT in the Budget for Medicaid, CHIP, Health (02/15/2005)

Public hearings on the budget for Article II health and human service programs in SB 1, the General Appropriations Act for 2006-2007, began Monday February 7, in both the Senate Finance committee and the Health and Human Services Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee (HAC). On a faster track than in previous sessions, the budget committees plan to complete their subcommittee/workgroup activities (including taking public testimony) on HHS agencies before the end of February. This means major decisions about whether to add funds to the Legislative Budget Board's (LBB) proposed budget (SB 1) are being made in the next few weeks.

State Budget Proposes to Cut More Than 4,800 Local Eligibility Workers (02/11/2005)

Legislators began debating the proposed budget for health and human services programs this week (for fiscal 2006-2007), which includes a reduction of 4,809 eligibility staff at the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) by fiscal 2007. The proposed reduction represents a 60 percent cut in staff.

Testimony on Proposed State Worker Cuts (02/11/2005)

The Center for Public Policy Priorities offers the following comments on LBB's proposed FY 2006-07 budget for the Health and Human Services Commission.

House Begins Public Hearings on HHS Agencies Monday: How Medicaid, CHIP, Health Programs Stand in the LBB's Budget (02/4/2005)

Public hearings on the budget for Article II health and human service programs in SB 1, the General Appropriations Act for 2006-2007, will begin Monday February 7, in the Health and Human Services Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee (HAC).

State Budget Issues for 2006-07 and Effects on Substance Abuse Programs (02/3/2005)

State Budget Issues for 2006-07 and Effects on Substance Abuse Programs is a presentation to the Texas Association of Addiction Professionals, describing how funding for substance abuse programs might fare at the state and federal levels.

$64.7 Billion for 2006-07 Does Not Fund Current Services (01/14/2005)

The $64.7 billion in General Revenue that the Comptroller estimates will be available to fund the 2006-2007 budget is not enough to fund current services.

State Budget Overview for the 2005 Legislative Session (01/5/2005)

A 2005 pre-legislative session forum hosted by the United Way of Metropolitan Tarrant County.

Funding Child Protection in Texas (10/1/2004)

Texans have recently heard one tragic story after another about the failure of our child protection system. In this policy brief, we explain that Texas has a small, inadequately funded child protection system. We then describe where the state gets money for child protection. Finally, we discuss emerging funding challenges.

All About the Money: The State Budget (09/30/2004)

Presentation to Houston One Voice Collaborative.

UPDATE on Medicaid and CHIP Cuts: What Was Restored in Recent Actions? (09/2/2004)

Some confusion has surrounded recent budget announcements by the Governor and actions by the Legislative Budget Board (LBB). This brief Policy Page describes how the actions taken will affect Medicaid and CHIP cuts, and explains which major cuts to those programs remain.

State Proposes Slashing Spending by Another 5 Percent (06/17/2004)

On June 16, the Legislative Budget Board and Governor's Budget Office issued instructions to Texas state agencies and public universities for their 2006-07 budget requests. Agencies have been told to ask for 5 percent less in General Revenue for the next two-year budget than they are spending in the current 2004-05 period.

Truth and Consequences: The State Budget for 2004-05 and its Impact on Texans (06/1/2004)

This report provides an overview of the major fiscal decisions included in the state budget for 2004 and 2005 and the impact of those decisions on low-income Texans.

Hobby Conference Presentation on Federal Budget Issues (05/14/2004)

Outlines the major federal funds in the state budget.

State Budget Developments: A Legislative Update from Austin (04/22/2004)

Presentation to St. Luke's Episcopal Health Charities on the impact of HHS changes made in the 2003 legislative session, such as HHS reorganization and state budget cuts.

$469 Million Available Now to Restore Medicaid Benefits for Elderly and Disabled (04/2/2004)

According to the Texas Comptroller, $469.3 million in unused state dollars are available which could be allocated to reduce the health and human service budget cuts passed by the 78th Texas Legislature.

State Budget Cuts & HHS Consolidation (03/23/2004)

Presentation to the Waco Nonprofit Network on state budget cuts for 2004-05 and the implementation of HHS agency reorganization.

How Much Does Texas Spend on Public Education? (03/1/2004)

The first question many people ask about public school finance seems like the simplest: how much does Texas spend to educate our 4.2 million school children? The answer is important in the current debate about how to raise and distribute money for public education. Before we can decide whether we need to spend more, we have to know how much we are spending now.

Losing Ground: The Texas State Budget for 2004-05 (01/1/2004)

Effects of state budget cuts in the 2003 session.

Legislature's CHIP Policy Changes Have Already Reduced Children Covered by 49,000 (11/9/2003)

This CPPP Policy Page provides updated information on CHIP program changes and how they are reducing program enrollment.

State Budget 2004-005: Implications for Health Care and Vulnerable Texans (10/29/2003)

Presentation on health care cuts made in 2003.

There's Still Time for HHS Restorations (09/17/2003)

This Policy Page provides an update of the different sources of unspent money that could be used by state officials to undo some of the worst budget cuts in health and human services HHS) programs that are now taking effect. It also provides information on who to contact at the Capitol to voice your opposition to these budget cuts and to express support for HHS restorations.

How Does the New $167 Million Affect Medicaid and CHIP Cuts? (08/11/2003)

This brief update recaps the uses of the added funds, and the enormous cuts that remain. To supplement this brief update, CPPP is posting a revised spreadsheet modeling the county-level impact of Medicaid and CHIP cuts for 2004 and 2005, reflecting the impact of the additional $167 million GR.

Status Report: State Funds That Could Reduce the Impact of Medicaid Cuts in the State Budget (08/1/2003)

The Governor, Lt. Governor, and Comptroller have all in recent days identified about $800 million in state dollars that could be used to reduce the size of Medicaid cuts approved by the Legislature for the 2004-2005 budget. Read the essential facts.

Hundreds of Millions Available to Restore Health and Human Services Budget (07/14/2003)

Three pots of money are available to restore the health and human services budget. Pot 1 consists of federal state fiscal relief of over $372 million. Pot 2 consists of unspent general revenue from the regular session of about $99 million. Pot 3 consists of money from the special session, including almost $232 million from corrections to H.B. 3588 regarding the Texas Mobility Fund, and perhaps $99 million available from a court cost issue also in H.B. 3588.

Texas State Budget for 2004-05 and Implications for Latinos (07/12/2003)

Workshop presentation for the National Conference of La Raza on how the state budget affects Hispanic Texans.

HB 2292: Read It and Weep (07/1/2003)

HB 2292 was signed into law by the Governor on June 10, setting in motion extensive reorganization of state health and human service agencies and functions, as well as a lengthy list of health and human service policy changes which are too wide-ranging to be easily summarized. This Policy Page provides a general description of the bill that is now law.

Child Protective Services/Foster Care Budget Cuts for 2004-05 (06/6/2003)

This Policy Page describes cuts in child welfare programs administered by the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, which will receive General Revenue funding of $484 million in the biennium that begins September 1st--down from $529 million in 2002-03, for an overall cut of 9 percent in GR funding.

State Health Care and TANF Budget Cuts for 2004-05 (05/30/2003)

As the 78th Regular Session draws to a close, House Bill 1--the state budget for 2004-05--is nearing the stages of final approval by the House and Senate. This Policy Page describes some of the major social services cuts contained in the budget, which will spend less General Revenue than the 2002-03 budget spent.

HHS Funding: Senate vs. House Proposals for 2004-05 (05/13/2003)

Many programs and services for the neediest Texans remain unfunded in the Senate Finance or House budget proposals, or in both. While the Senate Finance Committee has invested significant amounts in Health and Human Services above what was included in the House Budget, major program and client cuts remain.

What Is (And Isn't) in the House's State Budget Proposal for 2004-2005 (04/4/2003)

On Monday, April 14, the full House is expected to take up House Bill 1, the General Appropriations Act for fiscal 2004 and 2005. This Policy Page provides information about overall funding changes in the House's budget proposal, and specifics about the critical health and human services that remain unfunded.

What Texas Can't Buy with $54.1 Billion (03/10/2003)

The 2003 Legislature learned in mid-January that it should only expect $54.1 billion in General Revenue-related funds for 2004-05. If legislators are unwilling to create new revenue sources or tap the Rainy Day Fund, they will have to decide what "nonessential" items in the 2002-03 budget ($61.5 billion in General Revenue) will be slashed.

Testimony on HHSC Funding to Senate Finance Committee (02/27/2003)

Testimony to the Senate Finance Committee.

Testimony on HHSC Funding to House Appropriations Committee (02/21/2003)

Testimony to the Subcommittee on Health & Human Services, House Appropriations Committee.

Testimony on Dept. of Human Services Budget in 2004-05 Appropriations Bill (02/20/2003)

Testimony to the Subcommittee on Health & Human Services, House Appropriations Committee.

Budget Writers Need Public Input (02/17/2003)

The 2004-2005 budget requests of state agencies are now being heard by the House Appropriations subcommittees and the Senate Finance Committee. This brief Policy Page provides the meetings scheduled as of today; check the Texas Legislature's web site (http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/) for changes or other updates. CPPP staff contact information is also listed at the end of the Policy Page so you can find out what major programs are being funded at these HHS agencies.

Budget Gap Closer to $16 Billion (01/14/2003)

This brief Policy Page provides more information on the latest state budget developments and revises CPPP's estimate of a current services budget gap; you may also want to see Policy Page 177 for additional background information.

Tab for Current State Services to Rise by $6.9 Billion (01/10/2003)

This Policy Page provides more information on the preparation of the state budget and how you can make your concerns known to your state senator and representative.

Take a Balanced Approach to Balancing the Budget (01/1/2003)

Every balance sheet has two columns -- one for income and one for expenses. To balance a budget you have to look at both sides.

The Texas Budget & Tax Primer (08/1/2002)

The "state budget" for Texas is the General Appropriations Act, which the Legislature must enact every two years in order for state government to continue operating.

2004-2005 Budget Cycle Now Underway (07/18/2002)

With the release of budget instructions on June 10th, the next two-year budget cycle for the State of Texas has officially begun. This Policy Page describes the significance of this first step in the budget process and what it means for programs and their clients, and alerts you to opportunities to comment on agencies' 2004-05 budget proposals for critical programs such as Medicaid-funded services; child care; eligibility worker staffing for Food Stamps, cash welfare, and health care programs; child protective services; and many more.

State Budget Update: Is It Raining Yet? (04/10/2002)

Many states are currently struggling with lower-than-anticipated revenue or increased costs for their fiscal 2002 budgets. This brief Policy Page answers some of the most commonly asked questions about Texas' state budget since the Legislature adjourned in May 2001 and explains why Texas may be better off in the short run, but worse in the long term.

Medicaid and State Budgets: A Case Study of Texas (03/1/2002)

Like most state governments, Texas has recently marked the end of several-year interlude during which slow Medicaid growth briefly suspended the program's image as a top state budget growth driver. Substantial caseload declines from 1996 to 2000 have now been replaced with a steady upward trend, matched with highly robust enrollment in the state's separate SCHIP program. With these trends afoot, it is helpful to pause and review Medicaid's place in Texas' state budget.

DHS Seeking Comments on Texas Works (02/20/2002)

On February 6, the Department of Human Services held a public hearing on the 2004-2005 budget needs of the Texas Works program. Interested advocates can find out more about this hearing in this brief Policy Page, which also contains information about how to submit written comments on Texas Works needs by February 25, 2002.

Why Talk of a CHIP Shortfall So Early? (01/17/2002)

Presumably, it was never the intent of the Legislature to under-fund CHIP. There is every indication that legislators believed they had adequately funded the program in May 2001. When SB 1, the appropriations act for Texas' 2002-2003 budget was adopted, there were no public discussions at all suggesting that freezing or capping CHIP enrollment was anticipated, despite the fact that the program was allocated $14 million state dollars (general revenue: GR) less than had been requested by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). HHSC asked stakeholders in August for input on CHIP cost-cutting approaches, but indicated that the information was for long-term planning rather than any nearterm concern. In October 2001, there was statewide press coverage when increased premium rates for CHIP health plans were negotiated. Nowhere in the discussion of these increases by state agency staff or Legislators was there any mention of a threat to cap or freeze CHIP enrollment.

Amendments Would Rob State of Much-Needed Revenue (10/3/2001)

Three proposed state constitutional amendments on the November ballot would create new property-tax exemptions. All three would subsidize narrow special interests at the expense of state and local revenue that is desperately needed to maintain vital services.

Medicaid and CHIP Funding in Final Appropriations Act (07/16/2001)

This Policy Page summarizes some of the major funding in the final state budget bill, reporting on state funding for Medicaid programs that is above the levels included in the original filed version of SB 1 (the "base budget" as drafted by the Legislative Budget Board according to the instructions of the Legislature's leadership). For a thumbnail background sketch on Texas Medicaid, see Policy Page 126.

Child Care Funding Could Fall Short (05/11/2001)

With House-Senate state budget conferees about ready to wrap up work on Senate Bill 1, the Appropriations Act for 2002-03, final funding for child care will soon be known. This Policy Page explains why more state and federal funds for child care are needed to continue serving working poor families, and provides links to proposed legislation that would affect child care in Texas.

Medicaid Funding in the House and Senate Budget Bills (04/20/2001)

The Texas Senate voted out an appropriations bill (SB 1) on March 28, 2001, and the House of Representatives voted out their version on April 11. While a number of important questions about Medicaid funding were left unresolved by both houses, each house did recommend some additional state funding for Medicaid, above the levels included in the original filed version of SB 1.

O TANF, Where Art Thou? (04/20/2001)

The Texas House and Senate have approved their versions of the state budget for 2002 and 2003, setting the stage for conferees to work out major differences in the weeks ahead. One set of issues to be resolved is the use of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, which will bring at least $973 million in federal funds to Texas in the coming biennium. This Policy Page highlights significant differences in House and Senate proposals affecting TANF spending and the TANF balance that would remain by August 2003.

More Funding Proposed for Economic Development (04/4/2001)

This Policy Page describes how the House and Senate propose to increase economic development program spending in 2002 and 2003 and discusses legislation that would improve the state's funding of development programs by creating an integrated economic development budget.

Why Isn't There Enough Money? (03/14/2001)

The current state budget squeeze was fueled in part by tax cuts enacted in 1997 and 1999 (see Policy Page #110). But there are also deeper structural problems with the Texas tax system that keep state and local revenue lagging behind economic growth. If tax revenues had been able to keep up with the growth in personal income since 1994, budget-writers now would have an additional $9.8 billion available to appropriate for the 2002-03 budget. Another $11.2 billion would have been available in 1995-2001.

State Budget Frequently Asked Questions (02/23/2001)

The House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees are almost done hearing testimony from state agencies and the public on the introduced version of the biennial budget bill, Senate Bill (SB) 1, which will appropriate funding for all state agencies and programs in fiscal 2002 and 2003. This Policy Page answers some frequently asked questions about state spending and revenue for the next budget cycle.

Further DHS Staff Cuts Unjustifiable (02/9/2001)

The primary goal of eligibility policy reform is to minimize barriers for working families and ensure that clients receive the supports necessary to make a successful transition to self-sufficiency. Although early analyses of eligibility streamlining (by the Legislative Budget Board and the Comptroller's office) have proposed significant staff cuts for the Texas Department of Human Services (DHS), the center strongly recommends that these policy changes not be paired with any new reductions in DHS eligibility office staff.

Child Well-Being Funding Needs in 2002-2003 (02/5/2001)

On Tuesday, February 6th, the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services (DPRS) is scheduled to have its budget request heard by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. Individuals and groups who are concerned about state funding for child protective services (CPS), foster care, adult protective services, at-risk prevention programs for children and youth, child care regulation, and many other important DPRS programs will have a chance to testify at this hearing. This Policy Page summarizes important recent developments in DPRS funding.

Budget Committees Hold HHS Hearings (01/29/2001)

Groups or individuals wanting to testify to the Legislature on Texas state funding for social services: Act now, because this is one of the few chances you will get! House and Senate budget committees in the State Capitol are moving quickly to mark up their respective proposals for state spending in fiscal 2002 and 2003, and the public testimony hearing phase of the proposed state budget bill (SB 1) will most likely be complete by mid-February.

Enhanced Food Stamp Funding (01/23/2001)

In August 2000, the Texas Department of Human Services (DHS) received $27.9 in enhanced federal funds from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its success in improving payment accuracy and reducing fraud in the Food Stamp Program in fiscal 1999. An additional $4.9 in unspent enhanced funds received in 1999 is also available for a total of $32.9 million. Last session, the legislature directed DHS to spend $2 million of the enhanced funds received in 1999 on nutrition programs outreach. DHS' proposal to the legislature for spending the $32.9 million does not include any funding for initiatives to improve access to nutrition assistance for low-income families. This Policy Page summarizes DHS' proposal and the center's recommendations for using these funds.

Where Did All the Money Go? (01/17/2001)

Legislative budget-writers are warning that there will be very little money available for new spending in the state budget currently under consideration in the Capitol. This is a stark contrast to the last two legislative sessions, during which lawmakers competed over who could cut the most taxes. Unsurprisingly, there is a direct connection between the tax-cut fever of the past sessions and the tight budget scenario now. The tax cuts enacted in 1997 and 1999 have reduced the amount of state revenue available to fund the 2002-03 budget by $2.6 billion.

Keeping Budgetary Commitments to the Poor? Texas and the Welfare Block Grant, 1996-2000 (11/6/2000)

Keeping Budgetary Commitments to the Poor? Texas and the Welfare Block Grant, 1996-2000, a presentation at an international conference on Texas’ use of the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant.

Budget Process Update (10/6/2000)

Although the 77th Legislative Session is months away from starting, the state budget-writing cycle for the 2002-2003 biennium is about halfway over. This Policy Page summarizes some of the major steps that have already taken place as agencies develop their budget requests and provides additional information on how you can help make the state budget more responsive to the needs of Texas' low-income families.

Federal Budget Update (06/27/2000)

Before leaving Washington, D.C., for the July 4th recess, the U.S. Senate is expected to vote on appropriations for the federal Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (H.R. 4577), a funding package that cleared the U.S. House of Representatives on June 14th. The Senate took up H.R. 4577 on Thursday, June 22nd and is scheduled to continue debating amendments to it through Wednesday, June 28th. This Policy Page highlights some of the proposals in H.R. 4577 that could significantly affect federal support for Texas' major health and human services, workforce development and education programs.

Interim Committee Charges (04/7/2000)

Interim committees have come to play an important role in state government in both overseeing state agency activities and preparing the policy groundwork for the next legislative session. This Policy Page summarizes key interim committee activities the Center is monitoring and offers ways for interested parties to keep track of their progress and take advantage of opportunities for public input.

Block Grant Hearings (04/4/2000)

Public Input Needed on State Uses of TANF, Social Services Block Grant, Title X (Public Health Services Act), and Maternal and Child Health Block Grant.

Federal Budget Decisions Impact Texas (09/23/1999)

As Oct. 1 deadline nears, social services and other appropriations for fiscal 2000 still undecided.

TANF Spending for 2000-01 (09/3/1999)

This Policy Page sums up the policy decisions that led to the TANF spending plan included in the General Appropriations Act for 2000 and 2001, with a focus on how the TANF surplus was allocated. It also describes developments, such as the final TANF regulations issued by the federal government, that will influence how state agencies use TANF funds in the next two years and beyond.

Critical Funding Decisions Made by Budget Conferees (05/27/1999)

Under the HB 1 conference committee's recommendations, health and human services agencies would receive $27.4 billion in all funds (including the tobacco settlement), up 4% from the current biennium. This Policy Page summarizes the major decisions made by the conferees about how that amount will be allocated to specific programs.

HB 1 Conference: What's at Stake for HHS (04/30/1999)

On April 26th, the House Bill 1 (Appropriations Act for 2000 and 2001) Conference Committee began meeting to work out the differences between the Senate's $98.4 billion state spending proposal and the $97 billion budget that cleared the House on April 13. Most health and human services agencies are scheduled to be heard by the committee on Sunday, May 2. This Policy Page highlights the major differences in the Senate budget that must be reconciled by the conferees.

CSHB 1: Good & Bad News for Human Services Budgets (04/19/1999)

$29 billion in House-recommended 2000-01 budget for HHS agencies and TWC; another $5.7 billion in unmet HHS and education needs in Article XI "wish list."

76th Legislative Session: TIES Developments (04/13/1999)

This Policy Page describes funding proposals made by the House and Senate that will have to be decided by the budget conference committee later this session, and summarizes TIES-related legislation.

Child Protective Services Budget Issues (03/12/1999)

One health and human service budget issue that has successfully captured legislators' attention and support is the need to increase funding for the Texas Department of Regulatory Services (DPRS), the state agency responsible for investigating and preventing abuse or neglect of Texas children and adults, regulating child care facilities, and providing foster care and adoption services for children who cannot remain in their biological families. An emergency spending package is likely to provide more money to DPRS in the remainder of this fiscal year, and the general appropriations act (HB 1/SB 2) will probably provide more resources for 2000 and 2001, although not as much as is needed to fully address Texas' child abuse crisis.

House Appropriations Wraps Up HHS Budget Hearings (02/23/1999)

Senate Finance Committee Now Hearing Agency Spending Requests; Funding Gaps Exist Between HHS Needs and LBB Proposals.

Legislators Hear Center's TANF Proposals (02/12/1999)

TANF Investment Plan Presented to House Appropriations HHS Subcommittee.

US House Budget Proposal Cuts Non-Defense Discretionary Spending Well-Below Balanced Budget Levels (06/12/1998)

Cuts hit Welfare-to-Work, Safety Net Programs hardest. Cuts Would Also Affect Economic Development, Environment, Law Enforcement, and Education.

The TANF Block Grant and the State Budget (08/1/1997)

This Policy Page will report on the final decisions on allocation of the TANF block grant and provide details of how the TANF surplus was finally allocated.

U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Retreats from Bipartisan Budget Agreement (06/13/1997)

Shaw proposal would deny SSI to more disabled legal immigrants.

Key Programs Need Funding as Conference Committee Considers Welfare, Health and Human Service Issues (05/2/1997)

The Conference Committee on the State Budget, which has the job of taking the House and Senate adopted budgets and coming up with a final compromise budget, will discuss allocation of funds for Health and Human Service programs the week of May 5. Planning for the allocation of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant has been underway for several weeks. However, many major issues regarding HHS funding are expected to be left pending until HB 4, the property tax bill, is finalized.

House and Senate TANF Spending Plans Fall Short in Meeting Needs of TANF Recipients (03/14/1997)

The House and Senate are discussing proposals for spending the $393 millioni Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) surplus. Although both are good starting points, neither represents the final product. We anticipate further work on these plans, particularly in the Senate since the Finance Committee has not yet debated allocating TANF.

Health and Immigration Issues & the Federal Welfare Act: Texas Update (02/18/1997)

In this Policy Page we provide an update on the latest information regarding the provisions of the Welfare Act. The ultimate impact of a number of health-related provisions is not yet clear.

House and Senate Budget Committees Consider TANF Surplus (02/8/1997)

There is an estimated $358.2 million in excess TANF funds in the coming biennium. There is also the potential of excess state general revenue as well.

UPDATE: Senate Budget Hearing Set for Health and Human Services Agencies (01/17/1997)

The Senate Finance Committee has scheduled budget hearings for all state agencies. (A tentative schedule for health and human service agency hearings is below.) At these hearings, state agencies will testify about the Legislative Budget Board's funding recommendation for their agency in the FY 98-99 biennium. Concerned citizens, organizations, and advocates are also invited to testify.

Still Watching (02/9/1996)

In this Washington Watch we hope to bring you up to date on the general status of the federal budget and recent developments on welfare and Medicaid. Updates on food and nutrition programs, EITC and other issues will follow in the next WW.

Your Congressperson Needs Support in Voting NO on the Welfare Reform Bill (12/13/1995)

Both houses of Congress recently passed separate bills to reform the nation's welfare and social services programs. Since then, the House and Senate have been working to produce a compromise "conference" bill. When an agreement over whether to convert child nutrition programs (e.g. school lunch) into a block grant is reached, the bill will be sent to both houses for final approval (a House vote may be Dec. 14th or 15th), and on to the President. Organizations and others who care about the needs of the poor are concerned that many members of Congress may vote for this welfare reform bill in the mistaken belief that it is dramatically better than the original House bill, and that it limits damage to poor families.

Where Are We in the Budget Process? (11/22/1995)

Details of the Budget Reconciliation Bill and specifics on Medicaid, welfare and other programs are still filtering in. This Washington Watch is meant to give you a quick update on key issues. We will provide more detailed analyses as the actual bill language becomes available.

House and Senate Conferees on Welfare Reform Bill Named (10/18/1995)

In the coming weeks Congress will be making final budget and policy decisions on a wide range of programs. We will be sending out more frequent analyses with more details on specific programs. This issue will focus on the House and Senate Welfare Reform bills with updates on EITC and the Istook Amendment. Later we will follow with a focused report on Medicaid and Medicare and a look at the impact of Congressional reforms on child welfare programs and various immigrant related proposals and their disproportionate impact on Texas.

Washington Update (04/16/1995)

FY 96 Budget.

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