Senator Robert Duncan was in Lubbock Monday briefing the media on the big issues ahead for 78th legislative session. He says it will be a tough session, as legislatures will be working with a multi-billion dollar budget deficit for the first time in 10 years. The deficit legislatures will be working with is somewhere between five and ten billion dollars, they won't know the exact amount for a few months.
As for the agenda, Duncan highlighted the big issues which included, insurance, medical issues and availability, the budget shortfall, and the funding of higher education. Duncan said the shortfall is due to the massive expansion in healthcare costs, and partly due to enrollment growth in schools and in higher education. As for the plan, he says they'll have to analyze ways to cut back and ways to bring in more revenue. Duncan says he expects a substantial medical malpractice reform to be passed this session and as for the insurance reform, he suggests a better balance to their system.
"Its not an issue of regulating the insurance companies more its more an issue of creating an environment that is more competitive in Texas. If you look at Texas we're in a belt with several other states but we have an enormous amount of hale losses, and wind losses as opposed to other states and the mold crisis has caused some significant problems. So what we want here is an environment where insurance companies will come and write products and consumers will have choices and they can chose products that are priced at competitive levels. That's going to be our challenge," said Senator Robert Duncan.
As for school finances, Duncan says its not a state wide problem yet and he doesn't think it will make it to the table this session. Texas lawmakers convene January 14th in Austin.