Texas leaders told state agencies to prepare budget proposals for fiscal years 2014-15 based on the amount of state general revenue funding they were given for the current two-year budget, FY 2012-13. However, the agencies were also told to submit supplemental plans stating how they would reduce spending by 10% (in 5% increments) if necessary. As usual, agencies will also prepare lists of “exceptional items” that they would like to have funded if possible. On the downside, legislators also need to deal with $4.8 billion that was left unfunded in the state’s Medicaid programs as a way to balance the current budget.
The budget instructions generally mean that funds cut from the budget in 2011 are not restored in most agencies’ “base budget,” so program and service reductions in current budgets may continue. Additionally, any costs from population growth and inflation may also need to be absorbed in budgets for the FY 2014-2015 biennium. Agencies are allowed to include funds in “baseline” budget requests for a few programs such as Medicaid entitlement programs, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the Foundation School Program that provides state funding for public schools. For the state’s Medicaid, funding for caseload growth is allowed in the baseline request, but growth in costs and use are not, so any increases for those factors will need to be included in the exceptional items (wish list).
State agencies are currently developing their budget requests — which are called Legislative Appropriations Requests — that must be submitted to the Governor’s Office and the Legislative Budget Board in August. The LARs become the starting point for a draft budget bill that will be presented by the LBB to the Texas Legislature for consideration in 2013. The LBB will hold public hearings on agency budget requests this fall, which give advocates another opportunity to provide input.
A few of the items that could affect people with disabilities include the length of waiting lists, funding to move people out of institutions, Medicaid managed care, health care reform and meaningful day habilitation.
Visit the Legislative Budget Board’s website for the detailed LAR instructions, the letter to state agencies and related budget information.