Dewhurst: Education, Medicaid Can Be Saved (TX)
March 30, 2011
NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas (AP) — Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said Friday that spending on public education can be maintained and even increased in the next two-year budget.
Dewhurst also vowed that the state Senate, over which he presides, would not agree to cut Medicaid reimbursement rates for nursing homes. The Republican lieutenant governor’s vision is a far cry from the severe cuts headed for a vote in the House next week.
"We can still fund education, the Foundation School Program … at the same appropriated level we’re funding right this second, actually higher," Dewhurst said at a legislative conference in New Braunfels. Dewhurst also said that prisoners "will stay locked up," and he predicted that universities would face "minimal" spending reductions.
Dewhurst said staggering cuts can be avoided by selling state land, reducing certain expenses and raising other revenue but not increasing taxes. With the state facing a shortfall as high as $27 billion, Dewhurst recently announced the formation of a special committee aimed at finding "non-tax" revenue to help plug the budget hole.
The House, which will begin debating the budget legislation next week, is contemplating huge cuts to public education and Medicaid.
The House budget calls for the state to spend $77.6 billion of its own funds over the two years. Even after an agreement to make a limited withdrawal from Texas’ flush reserve fund, the Rainy Day Fund, the plan still would underfund public schools by almost $8 billion and Medicaid by $4 billion. The figures are contingent on passage of the plan to tap the reserve fund.