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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

DRAFT STATE BUDGETS LEAVE CASH ON THE TABLE

If the first budget drafts from state House and Senate leaders are any indication, state lawmakers this year won’t be rushing to fill the spending cuts they made in 2011. State Comptroller Susan Combs told legislators they’d have about $101.4 billion in state funds to use for the 2014-15 budget, along with an extra $11.8 billion in the Rainy Day Fund. But Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 1, the draft budgets introduced respectively by Senate Finance Committee Chair Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) and House Appropriations Committee Chair Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie), each would spend only $89 billion in state funds for the two-year budget cycle. Unlike last session at this point, we’re not facing huge cuts in Medicaid payments, public health, and medical education. But the spartan drafts we’re looking at now fill in few of the holes lawmakers left in the current budget. One bright spot: a proposed big increase in physician loan repayment programs. Watch the TMA Legislative News Hotline video with TMA lobbyists Patricia Kolodzey and Troy Alexander discussing the budgets and other highlights from under the dome.

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