Kicking the oil tanker down the road
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Earlier today, after a conversation with Tom Suehs of DHS, I wrote that I thought a special session was unlikely. The conference committee has made a lot of progress on Health and Human Services issues. If there was a meltdown, Suehs told me, it would come on education. Well, here we are, less than a day later, and the prospect for a decent education budget does not look very good. Education appears to be melting down. I spoke with TEA commissioner Robert Scott, and here’s what he had to say: “The most likely scenario is that I will have to proration education spending”–something he asked lawmakers not to make him do–” for year two of the next biennium, which will unwind the 2006 tax cut and amount to a tax increase. If proration occurs, the LBB will borrow money for year two of the biennium so that it can fully fund year one. This plan would leave the schools around $8 billion short and would require Scott to send lawnakers a bill for that amount on the first day of the 83rd Legislature. The state will run out of money for schools in February or March of 2013. Then lawmakers can do what they always do, which is to pretend that the crisis does not exist and kick the can–only it will be more like an oil tanker–down the road. Sounds like there might be a special session after all, unless budget writers can come to an agreement pretty soon.