AUSTIN (KXAN) — Several state agencies across Texas are being told they may have to make some big cuts to basic services in 2018 and 2019. The state legislature is proposing to cut the budget by four percent.
As a result The Texas State Employees Union is holding a rally on the south steps of the State Capitol Friday at 5 p.m. They say state agencies are in crisis mode right now and any cuts could be devastating.
According to the union, that has 11,000 members, the turnover rate at state agencies is at a 15 year high. One reason, workers have only seen a three percent pay raise over the past seven years.
As part of the cuts, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is proposing to get rid of $345 million in financial aid to roughly 200,000 low income students in an effort to lower the tuition rates for middle income students by 20-percent. Right now a portion of a student’s tuition goes into this financial aid system, but Patrick says that puts a burden on middle income families.
But some areas of the state budget will not be cut. Those include:
- Funding for the Foundation School Program, which the Texas Education Agency says is the primary source of funding school districts across the state
- Public safety resources protecting the border
- Repayment of bonds
- Funding for Child Protective Services
- Pension checks and benefits (however the state may consider changes to group benefits)
- Behavioral health services
- Benefits and eligibility for Medicaid programs, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the foster care program, the adoption subsidies program and the permanency care assistance program. The letter says agencies can request the amount necessary to cover their projected caseloads.
The employees union is suggesting instead of cuts – lawmakers dip into the $11 billion rainy day fund.
“Which legislators refuse to use for basic state services and it’s a crisis because if there ever was a rainy day it’s now – kids are suffering because lawmakers are not dipping into the rainy day fund as of right now,” said Seth Hutchinson, Texas State Employees Union Vice President.
The Texas State Employees Union is hoping with Friday’s rally it will encourage not only workers but the public to call their lawmaker to let them know cuts are not okay.
At this point these cuts are just proposed. The session runs from January to May of 2017.
Editor’s Note: The original story indicated Child Protective Services would be impacted but the state says the agency is exempt from the cuts.