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Funding Limits Place Texas Agencies In Holding Pattern Prior to Legislative Session

Ryan Poppe | Texas Public Radio

The start of 2019 legislative session is just around the corner, and state agencies are developing their two-year budgets. But during the planning process, those agencies also have to figure out how they might cut their budgets.

In a letter sent out on Friday, the state’s Legislative Budget Board strongly urged the agencies not to exceed their funding limits as they prepare their legislative budget requests for 2020 and 2021.

MORE | Read the letter from the Texas Legislative Budget Board

The agencies will also have to submit a second hypothetical-supplemental budget that cuts agency costs by 10 percent.

The request comes soon after Texas Comptroller Glen Hegar reported that the state’s economy is strong based on rising oil and gas prices.

Mark Jones, political science professor with Rice University, said the request for budget cuts may have more to do with past legislative budget writing gimmicks than state revenues.

“So there are always these accounting maneuvers that allow the legislature to spend more than it has, so the legislature when it comes back in 2019 is going to have to deal with a current budget that is in deficit and looking towards the next biennium, a budget that already starts $8 billion down even if revenue remains constant,” Jones said.

The board's letter said they would exempt limits on funding for public safety resources spent on border security, Child Protective Services and funding related to Medicaid eligibility and benefits.

The 2019 legislative session begins Jan. 8.

Ryan Poppe can be reached at rpoppe@tpr.org or on Twitter @RyanPoppe1