As the COVID-19 pandemic ravages Texas, agencies and institutions have been called upon to reduce their spending. On May 20, top Texas officials published a memo directing agencies and institutions of higher education to plan a 5% decrease in their budgets for the current, 2020-2021 biennium which was originally approved as $250.7 billion in June of 2019. The 2020-21 budget was a 6.3% increase from the 2018-19 biennium budget of about $217 billion.
Officials cited the economic losses and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and a resulting need for smooth economic recovery as drivers of the required 5% decrease. Some agencies and programs are exempt, the majority of which have a role in COVID-19 response.
In the memo, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and Speaker Dennis Bonnen requested savings plans be submitted by each (non-exempt) agency and institution to the Office of the Governor and the Legislative Budget Board no later than June 15, 2020. The memo specifies some of the “cost saving strategies” expected in savings plans and outlines select agencies and programs that are exempted from the new directive. It also came with a warning that further budget adjustments may be necessary as the pandemic develops.Continue reading