Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus say legislators must be prudent with taxpayer dollars and leave a reasonable reserve in the Rainy Day Fund to ensure the state does not face a larger deficit in the 2011 Session.
Dewhurst and Straus say they will be looking for recommendations to reduce the Fiscal Year 2009 General Revenue and General Revenue-Dedicated appropriations by about 2.5 percent. They want guidance from lawmakers on how to specifically achieve that goal while preserving funding for essential programs including the Foundation School Program, acute care Medicaid, CHIP and debt service for previously issued debt.
They say it would be irresponsible for lawmakers to factor in the possible one-time economic stimulus package in the state's budget process. Lawmakers should also avoid spending that possible one-time money on on-going projects, which could result in unsustainable future costs.
Texas is one of only six states in the country not facing a deficit during these uncertain economic conditions. Texas Public Policy Foundation Fiscal Policy Director Talmadge Heflin is pleased that Dewhurst and Straus are asking agencies for targeted spending reductions. Heflin says now is the time for state government to prioritize needs and cut some of the least important items. Tightening the budget in the current fiscal year, Helfin said, will give the state a head start on spending available revenues in the next state budget.