Viral austerity

Texas is a pretty red state, but that doesn't mean it doesn't blow big bucks on all kinds of state-government fantasies when it's got the cash.  The talk now, however, is about "austerity," which I hope will mean serious thought about inducing the government to get back to tending to its knitting:
Just a few months ago, the Texas economy was growing at rates that outpaced those nationally. Lawmakers last session approved a quarter-trillion-dollar budget, and state income was projected to grow faster than previously expected. The comptroller’s office even estimated that lawmakers would have about $2.9 billion in hand upon their return to session. And that would be an important head start for lawmakers who would need to find new sources of state revenue to support the state’s increased commitment to funding public schools, among other things.
The virus, however, effectively wiped out that $2.9 billion surplus and then some. The choice now is pretty basic: Find new revenue or make significant cuts in basic state services. House Speaker Dennis Bonnen recently suggested that all state agencies cut their budgets by 5% now, rather than wait closer to the start of the next session when budget cuts could be draconian, less strategic and made under greater duress. This echoes Hegar, who has advised agencies to cut spending before lawmakers start deciding what will stay and what will go.
I find myself wondering about ERs, too. For a couple of months, we've gotten some data on what happens when people can't use ERs as the local free clinic for minor ailments. I'm looking forward to some analysis of the effects.


james said...

Isn't SOP to make draconian cuts across the board, including on the agencies that tried to be good citizens and cut back ahead of time?

Grim said...

It's definitely SOP to call any cuts at all "draconian."

J Melcher said...

Texas (I'm in Ellis Co.) could reduce school funding to "non-essential" activities. For example, Pre-K, some athletics or UIL competitions, paid lunch for all instead of need-based ...

Identify the top 3 most highly paid employees of each school district (superintendent, athletic director, head football coach? ...) and ask them to take a significant temporary pay cut.

Ask for parent-volunteers to take over some duties now done by part-time school employees.

A "travel ban" on sending board-of-trustee members to TASB training events at luxurious convention centers in the biggest Texas cities. Trustees, like the students, can explore the advantages of internet-based tele-conferencing.

It should not be difficult to reduce expenses, were the administration to have such a goal imposed upon them.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Texas was already purple, with the threat of going blue. How this year's events will affect that I don't know.