In releasing his latest budget proposal, California Gov. Jerry Brown told his state’s lawmakers that “the year ahead will demand courage and sacrifice” as the state faces a deficit projected to hit $25.4 billion over the next 18 months. His proposal combines spending cuts to Medi-Cal, in-home services for the elderly, and higher education with a five-year extension of income, sales, and vehicle taxes.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo demanded shutting 20 percent of state agencies as part of “radical reform” to pull his state out its fiscal crisis. And Gov. Chris Christie in New Jersey skipped a $3.1 billion payment to the state’s pension system in a push to cut benefits for public workers, while proposing higher employee contributions and a boost in the retirement age from 62 to 65.
Public education in Texas, meanwhile, is facing billions of dollars in proposed budget cuts that would include slashing arts education, pre-kindergarten programs, and teacher incentive pay as lawmakers take on a massive deficit with the promise of no new taxes.
Texas lawmakers got their first glimpse of what the next state budget might look like on Jan. 18, including a $5 billion cut to public schools, as Republican Gov. Rick Perry and his supporters were dancing at an inaugural celebration.
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Texas is facing a $15 billion revenue shortfall, and few corners of state government were spared in the draft proposal for the next two years. The Texas Constitution requires a balanced budget, and Republican leaders have vowed not to raise taxes.
Perry’s budget proposal would shutter four community colleges and generally eliminate financial aid for incoming freshmen and new students. The Texas Grants scholarship program would drop by more than 70,000 students over the next two years.
“It’s a catastrophe. No financial aid for kids to go to college. No pre-kindergarten for kids to learn their numbers and their letters. Health and human services slashed,” said Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine. “No Texan can be proud of this.”