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Government/Politics

State Leaders Call For Agencies To Cut Budgets By Four Percent

abbott_patrick_straus_2015_session.jpg
Vince Kong
/
Texas Public Radio
Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker Joe Straus visiting during the 2015 session

Bracing for a tough budget next session, leaders at the state capitol are preemptively instructing state agencies to reduce their request for state funding, but those requested cuts do not apply to all state agencies.

With the oil and gas industry in Texas still struggling to get back on its feet, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and House Speaker Joe Straus have sent state agencies a directive asking that they reduce their proposed 2018-2019 budget by 4 percent way ahead of the 2017 session.

This unified effort isn’t something state agencies have seen since 2010, the year prior to some of the most wide-sweeping budget cuts in the state’s history.

Jason Embry, with the Speaker's Office says, “It was important to Speaker Straus and other state leaders to call on agencies to be careful with taxpayer dollars while also highlighting key priorities including public education, child protection, mental healthcare and border security.” 

According to the directive, certain state programs connected to Child Protective Services, mental healthcare, and border security will be exempt from having to reduce their legislative funding request next year.

San Antonio Democratic State Sen. Carlos Uresti sits on the Senate’s powerful Finance Committee and has championed improvements to the state’s foster care system and mental health programs.  He sees the cuts as a Band-Aid for what really needs to be done to provide foster children the type of care he says they deserve.

“They’ve carved out foster care, but the Family and Protective Services I don’t think have been exempt from that.  So there are many other issues and needs that lend themselves for why kids end up in foster care," Uresti explains.

In a letter released Friday, Straus says that because of a slowdown in the economy, difficult decisions were necessary.