State Budget

Mental Health
1:13 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Fighting Stigma of Mental Illness Goal of New Texas Nonprofit

Despite money put towards mental health care in Texas last legislative session, Texas ranks near the bottom in spending per capita on mental health. A new mental health policy nonprofit in Texas will work to identify ways to improve access to services.
Liang Shi for KUT News

Improving mental health practices for Texas and reducing the stigma associated with mental illness is the goal of a new statewide institute. Its focus will be on children, veterans and criminal justice policies.

The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute opened its doors today. Tom Luce, its chief executive officer, says the nonprofit will do research to improve access to mental health care in Texas – and not just after emergencies like the recent Fort Hood shooting.

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Turning the Corner
11:50 am
Fri October 11, 2013

Opening Soon in Dove Springs: A $2.4 Million Mental Health Clinic

Frances Acuña is one of thousands in Dove Springs who will seek mental health services at an intergrated care clinic opening in November 2013.
Credit Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Donna Spencer and Iliana Gilman work with Austin Travis County Integral Care, the agency that provides mental health services for low-income residents in the area. They recently walked through the site of Integral Care’s soon-to-open $2.4 million facility, inside what used to be a Wal-Mart and a Sam’s Club.

It’s in the southeast Austin neighborhood of Dove Springs. This low-income, majority Latino neighborhood is getting its first mental health care facility. It’s in large part because of a federal initiative, the Medicaid 1115 waiver program, that funds experimental clinics like this one. It will offer mental health care and substance abuse treatment, along with routine primary care.

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Politics
8:09 am
Thu May 30, 2013

Budget Breakdown: What Texas Lawmakers Approved

State Rep. Jim Pitts, chief budget writer in the House, left, and House Parliamentarian Chris Griesel, right, are surrounded by House members during discussion over a budget-related measure on May 25, 2013.
Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

Story as it aired on KUT 90.5 FM

Amid all the other items on the agenda, the 83rd session of the Texas Legislature had as its primary task: passing a budget bill. Last Sunday, lawmakers praised the budget deal they'd pass before midnight. State Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, is the House’s chief budget writer.

"By doing all the good things that are in this budget…we are still able to increase the state budget by a percentage of less than one percent per year with adjusted dollars," Rep. Pitts said.

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83rd Texas Legislature
10:54 am
Tue May 28, 2013

83rd Lege's Regular Session: What Happened, What Didn't

Bob Daemmrich/Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Todd Wiseman via Texas Tribune

It's been a whirlwind of an end to the 83rd Legislature's regular session, and with Monday's announcement of a special session, lawmakers aren't done. Here's a look at the deals reached and the measures that fell short during the 140 days of the regular session. 

BUDGET

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Politics
3:13 pm
Sat May 25, 2013

Saturday Update: Legislature Honors Fallen Soldiers, Continues Last-Minute Work on Bills

Gov. Rick Perry addresses a joint session of the Texas Legislature to honor fallen members of the military on May 25, 2013.
Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

Members of the Texas House and Senate are at their desks this afternoon as the Legislature continues to work in the final days of the 83rd session. 

State Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton, says they expect to bring up Senate Bill 1, the budget bill, on Sunday. He was one of the House members who worked with Senators in the conference committee on SB 1.

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Politics
5:30 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Agenda Texas: Budget Agreement Gets Stuck

Budget negotiations continue as time starts to run out.
Photo courtesy the Texas Tribune for KUT News

Hey you remember on Friday when we announced there was a budget agreement?

Yeah, about that....

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Politics
5:30 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Agenda Texas: Busted Budget Negotiations

There have been a couple of stumbles as lawmakers try to end budget negotiations.
Photo by Ryland Barton for KUT News.

Today was supposed to be the day. In the morning, House and Senate budget negotiators announced there would be a meeting at 2 pm, which many interpreted as the meeting that would unveil the budget agreement.

Yeah, that didn't happen.

At 2:15, the meeting was delayed until 3. At about 3:30, the meeting was delayed until 5.

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Politics
8:25 am
Mon April 8, 2013

Texas House, Senate to Iron Out Budget Differences

Lawmakers in the Texas House and Senate will begin to work out differing views on the budget.
Muliadi Soenaryo via Texas Tribune

Texas lawmakers in the House and Senate will soon begin working out differences between their budgets. 

The longest and probably most heated debate over the budget happened last Thursday. That’s when the House passed its amended version of the state spending plan for the next two years.

Every session, House and Senate members disagree on how much to spend and which line item should get how much funding. Kate Alexander said this session will be no different.

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Politics
6:05 am
Fri April 5, 2013

House Passes Budget, Votes Against School Vouchers (Update)

The House debated hundreds of possible changes to the budget bill.
KUT News

Update: The debate over the budget in the Texas House lasted well into the night. But it was short and relatively drama-free when compared to sessions past. The budget bill passed 135 to 12.

The two-year budget boosts state spending. It includes small raises for state employees and spares state parks from being closed.

By the end, lawmakers had agreed on what would go into the $93.5 billion state spending plan – $2.5 billion will go back into the public school funding formula after nearly $5 billion was cut in 2011.

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Politics
1:38 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

In Bipartisan Truce, House Members Pulling Amendments

Medical assistant Alesia Bolden checks Nereyda Penaloza's vital signs during a visit to Women's Health at CommUnityCare, a federally qualified health center, in Austin, Texas.
Tamir Kalifa via Texas Tribune

While the Texas House began working through 267 amendments on the proposed budget Thursday morning, Democratic and Republican House members confirmed that potentially divisive amendments related to funding for women’s health are being withdrawn as part of a bipartisan truce.

“Both sides are standing down,” state Rep.Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, said.

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Health
4:17 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

UT App Measures Effect of Family Planning Cutbacks

A UT app online presents the effects of budget cuts on family services.
KUT News

The number of women served by a state family planning program in Travis County dropped 90 percent over two years, according to researchers at the University of Texas at Austin.

That happened as funding dropped by about the same amount, which contributed to the closure of seven family planning clinics.

UT’s Texas Policy Evaluation Project released a web app today that measures the impact of cuts to the Department of State Health Services' family planning programs.

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Politics
5:46 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

House Panel OKs Version of Budget

Once the full House passes its bill, reconciliation with the Senate version will begin.
KUT News

A day after the Texas Senate passed a state budget, the House Appropriations Committee passed its version.

The bill would spend a little less overall than the Senate plan but would spend more on Texas public schools, an increase of $3 billion, after the cuts of close to $5.5 billion in the budget passed in 2011.

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Politics
5:11 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

Lawmakers Working to Pay Medicaid Bill

KUT News

  The Texas House Appropriations Committee voted out an emergency supplemental spending bill this morning. The bill would fund the state’s Medicaid services for the rest of the current budget.

Almost all of the $4.8 billion bill goes to pay for the state’s Medicaid services. Lawmakers purposely underfunded the program by 6 months in 2011 as part of $27 billion cut from the state budget due to a dramatic drop in state revenue.

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Politics
5:05 am
Thu January 24, 2013

Education Budget-Building Begins

Budget hearings continue today at the Capitol.
Lizzie Chen, KUT News

When the House and Senate filed base budgets last week, advocates for programs that were cut in 2011, including public education, were upset the budgets didn’t restore funding. Lawmakers countered that the budget was expected to grow.

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Politics
5:24 am
Thu January 17, 2013

Business Group Calls for Tax Cuts

The Legislature has $101 billion to work with this cycle.
Lizzie Chen for KUT News

When Texas lawmakers found out they’d have more than $101 billion to spend this legislative session, some immediately began calling for tax cuts. Now one prominent business lobbying group has laid out its idea for what those cuts could look like.

For Bill Hammond, it’s a simple formula: Keep taxes low and the Texas economic engine keeps on chugging. Hammond, president of the Texas Association of Business, says making permanent the business tax exemption for companies that bring in less than $1 million in gross receipts would really fuel the economy, as would allowing those making more than that to exempt their first $1 million.

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Politics
7:15 pm
Tue January 15, 2013

House 'Zeroes Out' Standardized Tests in Draft Budget

Items that are zeroed out sometimes get some or all funding back.
KUT News

When the Texas House filed its base budget Tuesday, plenty of attention was paid to how much money the bill spent on things like health care programs and public schools. But there where a handful of programs that - so far - are getting no money at all.

It’s called being zeroed out. The line item is still there in the budget, but just followed with zeros. It’s a political move. Items that are zeroed out typically get some or even all funding back. But only after changes have been made to how the program functions.

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Politics
3:45 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

First Draft of Texas House's 2013 Budget: $89.1 Billion

The first budget draft leaves $5.5 billion in unspent projected revenue. It is expected to be filed Tuesday.
Erik Reyna/KUT News

The first draft of the Texas House budget comes in at $89.1 billion, and leaves $5.5 billion in unspent revenue.

"The filing of this budget will allow the House to formally begin a discussion about Texas’ priorities," said House Appropriations Chair Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie), in a statement. "This bill recognizes the demands of population growth on public schools and Medicaid, and steadfastly maintains the House's commitment to fiscal discipline."

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Politics
5:05 am
Thu January 10, 2013

Perry Calls for Tax Cuts as Legislature Opens

The Legislature will decide what to do now that it has more money this cycle.
Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Texas lawmakers may have $29 billion more to spend on the state budget this session than they did in 2011. Now, Gov. Rick Perry is floating the idea of tax cuts.

Perry says lawmakers will have more than $101 billion in revenue over the next two years because of the economic climate Republicans have created in Texas. Increased revenue, he says is a reason to push for keeping a tight budget and avoiding increases -- and, as he told lawmakers during the Legislature’s opening day Tuesday, to consider tax cuts.

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2013 Legislative Sesssion
6:40 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

Combs: Lawmakers Will Have $101.4 Billion for Budget

State Comptroller Susan Combs makes a face while delivering a keynote speech at the Texas Republican Convention June 8, 2012.
Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

KUT's Ben Philpott talks with KUT's Nathan Bernier about Combs' announcement.

The Texas Legislature will have $101.4 billion to haggle over in crafting its next two-year budget, along with an extra $11.8 billion in the Rainy Day Fund, Comptroller Susan Combs announced Monday morning. (Listen to her full announcement here.)

Combs’ official biennial revenue estimate sets the limit of the state’s general fund, the portion of the budget that lawmakers have the most control over. The general fund typically makes up nearly half of the state’s total budget.

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2013 Legislative Sesssion
2:28 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Texas Legislators Start Wrangling on State Budget (Update)

Texas' spending cap is the prime topic before the Legislative Budget Board today.
Erik Reyna for KUT News

Update: The Legislative Budget Board approved a 10.7 percent spending increase for the 2014-2015 budget. That means – for now – that lawmakers can spend up to $77.9 billion in the two year budget.

That amount will go up in a few months,  as lawmakers add billions to the current budget to pay for an underfunded Medicaid system.

Republican lawmakers pledged today to spend less than the cap allows – no matter the number.

Original Post (10:14 a.m.): The Texas Legislative Budget Board is meeting this morning to set the state’s spending cap for fiscal years 2014-2015.

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