Restoring the deep cuts made to the Texas budget two years ago will have to wait, as will any major new initiatives — at least for now.
The top priority for the state House and Senate leaders who crafted the 2014-15 budget bills was to clean up the accounting mess left from 2011.
Last legislative session, lawmakers used just about every trick of the trade to make the books balance without having to make even deeper reductions to basic state services in the 2012-13 two-year budget. They left a giant Medicaid IOU; borrowed some tax dollars from 2014-15 while kicking some costs into that budget; and relied heavily on billions in fines and fees that have been accumulating for years in so-called dedicated accounts.
Nearly $7 billion will be needed to undo those accounting maneuvers that some Republican activists — and Gov. Rick Perry — have derided as gimmicks that created the illusion of a balanced, conservative budget.