AUSTIN – As the Texas fiscal year closes amid the coronavirus pandemic, state agencies are quietly moving forward with budget cuts through a process controlled entirely by top Republicans, putting services for low-income Texans in jeopardy at a time advocates and some lawmakers say they are needed most.
More than $380 million in cuts were slated for the fiscal year that ends Monday, without formal input from the state Legislature, which negotiates the state budget. Another $670 million are scheduled for the coming fiscal year, and nearly 5,000 full-time jobs are at risk over the biennium, according to a recent budget document obtained by Hearst Newspapers.
The biggest agencies, including the Texas Education Agency and the Health and Human Services Commission, have declined to say whether all of the cuts slated for this fiscal year went into effect or exactly what’s on the table for 2021. That lack of transparency has left providers and advocates in the dark about cuts to programs used by millions of vulnerable Texans – including specialized health care programs, oversight of child care facilities and the state’s system for enrolling children and families in services such as food stamps and Medicaid.