Lawmakers face same problems in 2013
Just like the 2011 legislative session, Texas lawmakers are gearing up for another battle over the state's Rainy Day fund to help pay for Medicare and public education.
For all the budget tricks used to balance the state's spending plan, lawmakers find themselves in the same position heading into 2013, but with fewer options.
Neither side wants to raise taxes, but State Representative Sylvester Turner says something has got to be done, and quickly.
"We underfunded the Medicare/Medicaid program in the state of Texas by roughly $4 billion, so we're going to have to come up with that or we will run out of money in May of 2013," the Houston Democrat says.
"Up until this year, the broad-based business tax has underperformed, and there have been some unintended loopholes that people have taken advantage of legitimately, but they are loopholes," says Turner.
Rice University's Mark Jones says it’s unlikely Governor Rick Perry and state Republicans will dip into the fund to pay for public education unless a new funding mechanism is put in place for the future.
"There's a lot of debate regarding Medicaid, but I think one of the core missions of the state is providing public education," says Jones. "The quality of Texas K-12 education is falling every year as it receives fewer and fewer resources."
The good news is more people continue flooding into Texas for work. However, Don Baylor at the Center for Public Policy Priorities says the state can't rely on them to make up the tax difference.
"Looking at the numbers, Texans work more than people in other states, but we earn a lot less," says Baylor. "We also have lower education and lower assets or liquid savings."