Texas House begins debate on lean budget plan

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- The Texas House has begun debating sweeping cuts to the state budget, including a rare reduction in public education funding.

The proposal is $23 billion less than was spent in the current biennium in state and federal funds. With almost 400 amendments to slog through, the debate is expected to last well into the weekend before a vote is taken.

Severely disabled children in wheelchairs were lined up outside the chamber before the debate began, underscoring the human faces behind the cuts. The House plan underfunds Medicaid, which provides health care to the poor and disabled, by more than $4 billion. The plan cuts full-day pre-kindergarten, teacher incentive pay, college financial aid and numerous other programs.