Video - In her January 2011 revenue estimate, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs explains how she got it so wrong - allow me to summarize - she was an idiot...
Check out the slideshow...
Heads up - Fans of women's swimming (and high heel shoes) might want to make sure to see pic #4...
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas lawmakers will have a revenue shortfall of at least $15 billion for general-purpose spending for the next two-year budget compared to current state spending, according to figures released Monday.
Some analysts say the true shortfall could be much higher — closer to $27 billion — if lawmakers intend to maintain spending at current levels and still pay for enrollment growth in public schools and on Medicaid rolls, cost increases and other variables. That figure amounts to almost a third of discretionary state spending in the current budget.
The Texas Legislature will begin to grapple with the bleak budget picture when the session opens Tuesday.
"The recent recession has had its impact on the state revenue outlook as major revenue sources, such as the sales tax generated less money in the last couple of years," state Comptroller Susan Combs told reporters. "While we have turned the corner to an economic recovery, the revenue estimate I'm releasing today is for moderate growth."
The numbers cover the 2012-2013 budget, and include a $4.3 billion deficit in the current state budget.
Texas also will have about $9 billion in the so-called Rainy Day Fund, but that money can't be used without a two-thirds vote of the Legislature — a hurdle that may be too high with the new wave of fiscally conservative freshman Republican lawmakers.
The estimate, which gives the Legislature a roadmap as it embarks on the budget-writing process, has for months been the topic of election-year rhetoric, with Republican incumbents trying to downplay the severity of the budget mess.
"I don't think we have a budget hole," Gov. Rick Perry said in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday. "I think we have a budget of $76.5 billion and we're going to live with that. . . . It's only a budget hole when somebody has wished that they had more money."
Because of the recession, state tax receipts for the 2010 budget year have fallen behind projections, leaving a deficit in the current budget. The state is also on the hook to fill a hole of about $11 billion left by federal stimulus money and other state savings that were used last year but are no longer available. Added cost pressures from increased enrollment in public schools and health care programs for the poor and disabled, and spikes in health care costs, will compound the massive hole.
"When increased population and higher costs are taken into account, Texas is at least $26.8 billion short of the general revenue needed to provide for current services into the next biennium," said F. Scott McCown, executive director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, which advocates for needy Texans. "In other words, we are short by at least 25 percent."
Texas is $27 billion short...
Video - Incoming Texas house members discuss the budget shortfall...
Complete story inside including video, links and more. I also built a little Texas slideshow once I started finding so many potential photos for this story.
Check out the slideshow...
Editor's Note - Fans of women's swimming might want to make sure to see pic #4...
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