As you may know, the Republican-led Texas House passed HB 1– the State’s budget. After reviewing the bill over the last day, I want to share with you what this bill means for everyday Texans. I voted “no” on this bill because of the overall devastation it will cause our entire State. Cuts will be felt by every Texan: young children, students, the elderly, the poor, the disabled, and the workforce. Many of my fellow Legislators and I, attest to fact that we have never seen such decisions that will have such tremendous impacts upon children and seniors, in particular.
The Republican majority voted for a bill that will reduce funding by $23 billion, or more than 12 percent, compared to last sessions budget. For this upcoming budget cycle, Republicans chose to leave the Rainy Day Fund untouched at the expense of school children and the elderly.
This Republican budget defunds Texas schools by $7.8 billion, compared to last session. This will cram more students into classrooms, cause more schools to close, and cause more Texans to suffer from the effects of a diminished education. According to the Legislative Study Group, up to 100,000 school employees that Texas children and parents rely on – including bus drivers, counselors and teachers – would lose their jobs. Because of this, AISD has approved the reduction of 1,153 teachers, administrative staff, and support staff.
The Republican Budget also slashes almost $1 billion from our institutions of higher education. If universities tried to offset these cuts, full time Texas college students could pay an extra $1,023 a year in tuition. This will close the doors to higher education for thousands of Texas students.
This budget will erase any gains made in increasing access to care for Texans. Republicans have underfunded Medicaid, which more than 3.3 million Texans – mostly children, pregnant women, seniors, and adults with disabilities – rely on for access to health care. The cuts to Medicaid endanger seniors in our nursing homes and the Texas Health Care Association estimates that with these cuts, 50 percent of all nursing homes could shut down, forcing 43,700 seniors out of their home. Several amendments were offered to restore these funds and keep quality health care a priority. Unfortunately, these amendments were voted down by Republicans.
Also, the budget reduces eligibility and enrollment funding will also hinder the ability of the Health and Human Service Commission to process enrollment applications in a timely manner, and further reduce access to services. These types of cuts will have a negative economic impact as a higher number of uninsured Texans will be limited to seeking services at emergency rooms across our state, resulting in higher costs for hospitals and taxpayers.
According to the Legislative Budget Board, the Republican budget will cost Texas over 335,000 jobs by 2013, 44% of which are in the private sector. This will have a rippling effect throughout our economy, disposable income levels will decrease, which will in turn lead to a decrease in sales tax revenues. This Republican budget is guaranteed to leave Texas in a worse position when the 83rd Legislature convenes in 2013.