AUSTIN-- Today the House Appropriations Committee approved HB 275, legislation to use the Economic Stabilization Fund (Rainy Day Fund) to cover the shortfall in the 2011 budget, and HB 4, a "supplemental" budget bill to make cuts and new appropriations for the current budget. Representative Dawnna Dukes (Austin) voted for HB 275 and against HB 4. The vote was delayed until the Governor released a statement accepting use of the Rainy Day Fund for the current budget but vowing to veto the 2012-2013 budget if it uses the Rainy Day Fund.
In the next biennium, state aid to public schools is reduced by $9 billion or more than $800 per student, forcing districts to increase class sizes, eliminate pre-kindergarten, terminate up to 100,000 teachers and school personnel, and consolidate and close schools. There will be 800 fewer caseworkers within child protective services to keep children safe from abuse and neglect and already inadequate provider rates within the Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Programs will be further reduced leaving children no access to primary, specialty or preventative health care. 70,000 senior citizens will be left with no home or essential medical and attendant care with the proposed $1.6 billion cuts to nursing facilities, skilled nursing facilities and hospices.
Although Representative Dukes supports paying the state's bills in the current fiscal year, she cannot encourage false illusions that Texans will be protected in the future by the use of a small portion of the $9.4 billion rainy day fund. Representative Dukes feels there has not been any genuine effort to find solutions to the $27 billion deficit we face in 2012 and 2013.
"In many cases the cuts in Health and Human Services are making life and death decisions. Texas children, senior citizens and disabled Texans deserve better," said Representative Dawnna Dukes (Austin). "The legislature should look at all options, from the economic stabilization fund to new revenue sources, in order to do what our constituencies have sent us to do: to protect our citizens, to care for those who no longer can care for themselves, to provide services to those who have nowhere else to turn."