That's more than a 10% estimated decline from last biennium - a lot less than earlier predictions, which suggested Texas might have up to $2 billion over and above the last biennial budget to apply toward discretionary spending. The Comptroller's final, official estimate represents a whopping $15.7 billion swing from the Legislative Budget Board's estimates in November.
Comptroller Susan Combs today estimated that Texas has about $9 billion less to spend – $77 billion – than it did two years ago.
Combs called her revenue estimate, which caps how much lawmakers can spend in the legislative session that begins Tuesday, “decidedly cautious.”
While Texas dodged many bullets in a national economic slowdown that began just over a year ago, the Republican comptroller said the state’s prosperity has cooled because of raging turmoil in financial, housing and auto markets.
“The effects of what may become the worst national recession in many decades will be too large to avoid,” she said. “The state is not immune.”
Combs said the Legislature will have $77.1 billion in state revenue to spend in the next two-year budget cycle – $9.1 billion less than the $86.2 billion in the current cycle.
On the criminal justice front, this news comes as the Department of Criminal Justice is asking for a total $1.2 billion in new spending over the next two years, including a 20% pay hike for guards to reduce high turnover rates and corruption. That's definitely in jeopardy now, as is any new agenda item with a price tag attached to it.
Perhaps this unhappy fiscal news means it's now time to seriously examine more radical possibilities being discussed in other states for reducing corrections costs?
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