Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen today sent a letter directing state agencies and institutions of higher education to each submit a plan identifying savings that will reduce respective general and general revenue related appropriations by five percent for the 2020-2021 biennium.
In the letter, the leaders also urge state agencies and institutions of higher education to pursue cost-saving strategies that will not affect the state’s response to COVID-19 such as forgoing capital expenditures that can be deferred, any avoidable travel expenditures, any administrative expenses that are not mission critical, and keeping unfilled any open positions that are not essential to Texas’ COVID-19 response.
“As Texans recover from this pandemic, it is incumbent that state government continues to maintain mission critical services without placing a greater burden on taxpayers,” reads the letter. “We are confident that Texas will get back to work and continue leading the nation in job growth, economic innovation, and business creation. However, it will take months until we know the true extent of the economic ramifications of COVID-19, and how combating this virus will impact state finances. To prepare for this economic shock, we must take action today to ensure that the state can continue providing the essential government services that Texans expect.”
Given the importance of the state’s response to COVID-19 and the continuity of critical government functions, the following are excluded from the five percent reduction:
• Appropriations to the Texas Division of Emergency Management, the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Texas Workforce Commission, the Texas Military Department; and the Texas Department of Public Safety;
• Funding for debt service requirements and bond authorizations;
• Current law requirements for the Foundation School Program and school safety;
• Funding for Child Protective Services;
• Benefits and eligibility levels in Medicaid programs, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the foster care program, the adoption subsidies program, the permanency care assistance program, and services for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities;
• Funding for behavioral health service programs;
• Appropriations for Correctional Security Operations and Correctional Managed Health Care at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice;
• Appropriations to Health Related Institutions and Community Colleges; and
• Employer Contributions to the Teacher Retirement System and Employees Retirement System funds and to Social Security.
Originally posted on Herald Banner.