Lawmakers Prep for Federal Budget Cuts
The Texas House has formed a committee to look into how the state would handle “sequestration.” That’s the package of automatic federal spending cuts and tax increases that take effect at the end of the year — the so-called “fiscal cliff.” That includes about $109 billion in cuts.
The committee was put together by House Speaker Joe Straus, who said in a news release that he hoped Congress would be able to find a way to reduce the deficit without increasing taxes or cutting jobs.
But in the event of a stalemate, he said, “Texans need to know how the sequestration process will affect the state economy.”
“The impending sequestration process would trigger across-the-board reductions in defense and non-defense spending, putting thousands of Texas jobs at risk,” said Straus spokeswoman Erin Daly. “Texans also face devastating increases in federal taxes if an agreement to avoid sequestration is not reached.”
Linda Harper-Brown, R-Irving, will head up the committee of 11 lawmakers. She, like the speaker, highlighted the impending tax increases. She says the committee will work to make sure the state is prepared for spending cuts if they come.
On the chopping block is money for the state’s military bases, health care programs and education funding. The Texas Education Agency sent out a letter over the summer to schools letting them know cuts to programs that help disadvantaged and disabled students are part of the federal cuts, although those won’t go into effect until next summer.
The sequestration committee hasn’t set its first meeting yet, but a report on its efforts is due Jan. 7, the day before the start of the 2013 legislative session.