Texas state leaders call for 5 percent budget cuts

Actions to prepare for "economic shock" from COVID-19

Talk 1370 Newsroom
May 20, 2020 - 6:11 pm
Coronavirus and Money

AUSTIN (Talk1370.com) -- State agencies and educational institutions are being asked to cut their budgets by five percent, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday.

The letter, co-signed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, calls for each agency and institution to submit a plan identifying savings to reduce general revenue related appropriations, while not affecting the state's response to COVID-19. Agencies are also asked to forgo capital expenditures that can be deferred, avoid travel expenditures, non-mission-critical administrative expenses, and a hiring freeze for any positions that aren't essential to the COVID-19 response.

"As Texans recover from this pandemic, it is incumbent that state government continues to maintain mission critical services without placing a greater burden on taxpayers," reads the letter. "We are confident that Texas will get back to work and continue leading the nation in job growth, economic innovation, and business creation. However, it will take months until we know the true extent of the economic ramifications of COVID-19, and how combating this virus will impact state finances. To prepare for this economic shock, we must take action today to ensure that the state can continue providing the essential government services that Texans expect."

The following are exempted from the request, due to the "importance of the state's response" to COVID-19:

  • Appropriations to the Texas Division of Emergency Management, the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Texas Workforce Commission, the Texas Military Department; and the Texas Department of Public Safety;
  • Funding for debt service requirements and bond authorizations;
  • Current law requirements for the Foundation School Program and school safety;
  • Funding for Child Protective Services;
  • Benefits and eligibility levels in Medicaid programs, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the foster care program, the adoption subsidies program, the permanency care assistance program, and services for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities;
  • Funding for behavioral health service programs;
  • Appropriations for Correctional Security Operations and Correctional Managed Health Care at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice;
  • Appropriations to Health Related Institutions and Community Colleges; and
  • Employer Contributions to the Teacher Retirement System and Employees Retirement System funds and to Social Security.

The plans outlining the five percent are expected to be delivered to the Legislative Budget Board and the Governor's office by June 15.

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