Comptroller Reports Massive Budget Shortfall - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/13/03

Comptroller Reports Massive Budget Shortfall

Texas Comptroller Carol Keeton Strayhorn blasted the former Texas legislature for establishing "Program after program while leaving an IOU for the next generation of lawmakers." On Monday, those new lawmakers found out just how much that IOU was for.

"I am delivering grim news," said Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn.

Crunching the numbers for next year's revenue projections, she came up with a massive shortfall. "Projecting from this day forward through the end of the upcoming biennial, I believe there will be $7.4 billion fewer dollars available to the 78th legislature," she said.

Add to that health insurance for the state's school teachers, and Texas has to make do with almost $10 billion less next year. "Many will use this news to issue a call for higher taxes. Some will say this illustrates the need for a state income tax. As for me, I say either of those will only dig a deeper hole for Texas taxpayers," she said.

"Well, I think there will be a lot of effects," said Lubbock Mayor Marc McDougal. He says the impact on the local economy remains to be sorted out. "Well, I don't know that we'll be making any suggestions as far as where cut are made. We certainly haven't been asked to at this point," said the Mayor.

To make sure the city's interests don't get railroaded, Monday he headed to Austin. "I think it's important to get down there, get your case stated, and then stay on top of it and make sure the legislature knows that you're watching," he said.

A message echoed by Comptroller Strayhorn. "The legislature should make a commitment to the people of Texas that they will never again spend every last dime of taxpayer money," she said.

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