Texas Budget Shortfall

Ben Briscoe
NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, TX--NewsChannel 10 asked, and viewers like you answered on Facebook in record time. We wanted to know what state programs you thought could be cut to make up for about a $25 Billion budget shortfall.  Before the show was even over, almost 100 of you had chimed -in.

Through all the posts, one idea dominated discussion, viewers suggested that Texas law makers slash their own salaries and spending allowances.

NewsChannel 10 took that idea to the office of local Representative John Smithee who also has a day job as a lawyer.

"I understand the public sentiment. I understand it entirely, but it is not a serious way to deal with the budget situation," he said. "And it's something the legislature couldn't even do if we wanted to because the salary is set in the state constitution."

Each one of Texas' 181 lawmakers makes $600 a month. That's a little over $12 per hour spent in session. However each of them also gets money for travel, maintaining an office staff and rent for an Austin apartment. Those allowances cap out at about $10 thousand a month. And most lawmakers already plan on cutting that down.

Still if those allowances and salaries were cut completely, only about $23 million would be saved. That leaves about $24.9 billion  more to go.

To give your suggestions on what should be cut, check out NewsChannel 10's facebook page. And for more on how much Texas lawmakers earn visit: http://www.laits.utexas.edu/txp_media/html/leg/0205.html