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.
Public education may be the hardest hit. The proposed $5 billion cut to public schools would include slashing arts education, pre-kindergarten programs and teacher incentive pay.
The initial budget proposal also calls for four community colleges to close and cuts higher education financial aid.
At the state capitol Wednesday House Democrats took turns talking about key points to the proposed budget cuts.
Rep. Veronica Gonzales, D-McAllen, said, “If you are a first generation college degree seeker your dream is going to halt.”
Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, said the cuts are like asking an anorexic person to lose more weight.
Even House Republicans are not happy with this budget proposal. Wednesday Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, who submitted the first draft of this budget, said "it's a work in progress."
According to Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, Texas is currently generating $75 billion in revenue, but needs to generate $99 billion in order to keep services at their current level.
Every democrat KEYE TV asked about the budget situation said, "It’s raining," referring to the state’s $9.4 billion Rainy Day Fund intended for emergencies. The budget proposal by Rep. Pitts does not tap into that fund.
One thing is clear though, the decisions that legislators make during this session regarding budget cuts will affect the future of Texas for years to come.