Gloomy budget outlook challenges lawmakers

Diana Crawford
NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - Lawmakers now have a better idea of what's to come with the looming budget shortfall in Texas.

Representative John Smithee says it's the largest deficit he's ever seen. He says it brings a gloomy challenge for lawmakers as the legislative session begins tomorrow. To close the gap, all government funded programs could be on the chopping block, even the necessary ones. Representative Smithee explains, "I think you are going to see an across the board percentage type reduction and then rely on those various agencies to try to insure, and certainly direct them to make those cuts at the top end of the bureaucracy, as opposed to the bottom end where the services are actually delivered."

According to State Comptroller Susan Combs, Texas has about $72 billion to spend, but it's estimated the state needs $99 billion to cover all its' costs. That takes into account a $4 billion shortfall in tax collections, bringing the total deficit to around $27 billion.

Smithee says one piece of good news for the Lone Star State is Texas has no outstanding debt, except for what has been approved.