State Budget Cuts Hit Health Care & Education Hard - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/25/03

State Budget Cuts Hit Health Care & Education Hard

Friday, the Senate Finance Committee sent its version to the Senate floor and the House has already passed its proposed version of the budget.

The proposed budget from the Texas House includes big cuts for both health care and education. Under the bill, Texas Tech's budget would be cut by $10.3 million next year. Texas Tech would also lose research and health insurance funds.

Public schools will also take a hit under the proposed House budget. The teachers' $1000 'pass through' payment for health insurance would be cut, almost in half, to $550. That's money teachers and public school employees can use to help them pay health insurance premiums for themselves and their families.

New LISD Assistant Superintendent Art Martin says the thousand dollar pass through was just put in place last year. "Now, to come back one year later and take it away or cut it back, you'll cause some of our employees to not be able to afford the level of insurance they've grown accustomed to," says Martin.

Also the House proposal would cut health insurance coverage for children. Under the current proposal, 300,000 Texas Medicaid kids and 250,000 C.H.I.P. recipients would lose their insurance. University Medical Center says the House bill leaves behind thousands of children. The hospital is hoping the Senate budget is less severe.

And finally, community colleges would be cut by $159 million. South Plains College stands to lose nearly $3 million.

Several amendments are expected to be made to this proposal, and both the House and Senate will have to agree on a final version of the budget. Lubbock Representative Delwin Jones called from the floor of the House Friday afternoon and said he is very concerned about the cuts related to health care and education. He's hoping the Senate will restore funding to some of those programs, and he says he won't support a budget until some major reforms are made.

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