Texas State Officials Require 2020-21 Budget Cuts, Potential 2022-23 Cuts

Texas Capitol with Trees by Austin Hill. https://flic.kr/p/69PhEo

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. 

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Environmental Headlines for the Houston Region: April 15, 2020

Photo: Karen Warren/ Houston Chronicle, Staff photographer. Photo accompanied item on 4/13/20, below.
  • 4/15/20
    • Reimagine public participation during stay-at-home [Opinion] (Amanda Timm; Frances Valdez, Houston in Action; Oni Blair, LINK Houston – Houston Chronicle) houstonchronicle.com
  • 4/14/20
    • ‘Unbelievable’ Timing: As Coronavirus Rages, Trump Disregards Advice to Tighten Clean Air Rules (Coral Davenport, New York Times, republished in Houston Chronicle 4/15/20) nytimes.com
  • 4/13/20
    • Injured wildlife finding help from quarantined residents [Front Page] (Rebecca Hennes – Houston Chronicle) houstonchronicle.com
  • 4/12/20
    • Cynthia Lee Rowan Taylor [Obituary] houstonchronicle.comNote: Mrs. Taylor was one of the founders of CEC and was passionate about environmental activism, active with many local environmental organizations.
  • 4/10/20
    • Dirtying up clean energy (James Osborne – Houston Chronicle) houstonchronicle.com
    • Curbing rush hour isn’t reducing air pollution in some parts of Houston (Dug Begley – Houston Chronicle) houstonchronicle.com
  • 4/9/20
    • We really just want to breathe clean air [Opinion] (Bridgette Murray, Achieving Community Tasks Successfully, and Elena Craft, Environmental Defense Fund – Houston Chronicle) houstonchronicle.com
    • Downtown shuttle may be parked for good (Dug Begley – Houston Chronicle) houstonchronicle.com
  • 4/8/20
    • When oil interests, climate advocates overlap [Opinion] (Larry Shapiro, Rockefeller Family Fund – Houston Chronicle) houstonchronicle.com
  • 4/7/20
    • Oil Companies Are Collapsing, but Wind and Solar Energy Keep Growing (Coral Davenport, New York Times , republished in Houston Chronicle 4/12/20) nytimes.com
    • New Research Links Air Pollution to Higher Coronavirus Death Rates (Lisa Freidman, New York Times, republished in Houston Chronicle 4/8/20) nytimes.com

Environmental Headlines for the Houston Region: April 4, 2020

Godofredo A. Vásquez, Houston Chronicle photographer
  • 4/2/20
    • Stop blaming bats for coronavirus [Opinion] (Merlin Tuttle, Bat Conservation International – Houston Chronicle) houstonchronicle.com
    • Cleaner air a silver lining of pandemic [Front Page] (James Osborne – Houston Chronicle) houstonchronicle.com
  • 4/1/20
    • Crisis is not free pass to pollute our planet [Opinion] (Robin Schneider, Texas Campaign for the Environment – Houston Chronicle) houstonchronicle.com
    • Quarantined in a property that flooded? Coronavirus compounds risks from Harvey, Imelda [Opinion] (Ben Lacy Hirsch, West Street Recovery – Houston Chronicle) houstonchronicle.com
    • Disease expert: You can go outside, but still practice social distancing (Julie Garcia – Houston Chronicle) houstonchronicle.com
  • 3/31/20
    • Oysters in Galveston Bay are on the rebound. Will it stay that way? [Front Page] (Nick Powell – Houston Chronicle) houstonchronicle.com
    • Fill out the census today (The Editorial Board – Houston Chronicle) houstonchronicle.com
  • 3/30/20
    • Oil has a new best friend: government (Rob Gavin – Houston Chronicle)
      “If the government, federal or state, is going to take steps to help the oil industry, whether through crude purchases, low interest loans, subsidies or regulation — the industry needs to reciprocate…. Stop flaring. Reduce emissions. Invest more in protecting communities from exploding chemical plants.Take climate change seriously and spend more money — much more — to accelerate the energy transition needed to prevent, or at least mitigate, the looming environmental catastrophe.”
  • 3/29/20
    • Metro delays projects’ next steps (Dug Begley – Houston Chronicle) houstonchronicle.com (published online 3/24/20)
    • Walking — the original social distancing activity (Julie Garcia – Houston Chronicle) houstonchronicle.com (Originally published online 3/19/20)
  • 3/28/20
    • White House to relax auto pollution rules (Coral Davenport – New York Times) nytimes.com (Republished in the Houston Chronicle 3/31/20)
    • Houston mayor threatens to fence off playgrounds, basketball courts for social distancing (Sergio Chapa – Houston Chronicle) houstonchronicle.com
    • Firefighters battle large grass fire on Galveston Island’s East Beach (Sergio Chapa – Houston Chronicle) houstonchronicle.com
  • 3/27/20
    • Modernizing the electrical grid and energy infrastructure can propel an economic recovery [Opinion] (David Foster – Houston Chronicle) houstonchronicle.com
  • 3/23/20
    • Westchase wants to put bayou bike trail connection, a first in Houston, on the map [Front Page] (Dug Begley – Houston Chronicle) houstonchronicle.com