State Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, filed ahead of the session bills to cap welfare and state spending, freeze state hiring and give school districts testing choices.
King’s HJR 52 is a constitutional amendment to limit the growth of state spending for welfare and entitlement programs to not exceed the corresponding rate of growth of total state spending. Under the increased federal health care mandates, Texas general revenue spending for Medicaid alone is likely to increase from $16.3 billion in 2012-13 to $38.3 billion by 2020-21, King said.
“Due to the ever-expanding mandates from the federal government, increased spending for welfare programs has caused the rest of the budget to suffer,” King explained, “Medicaid spending alone has more than doubled in the last decade and is on track to double costs every 10 years. Texas must limit the growth of welfare spending, or it will quickly overcome public education and transportation as the single largest item in the budget and become unsustainable.”
King also filed HB 291, a bill that would freeze hiring by state agencies for the 2014-15 biennium. The bill would implement a freeze on non-essential state hiring for that biennium, and would also prevent diversions of dollars from those unfilled positions being used by that agency for other purposes.
“The economy has seen many ups and downs over the past few years,” King stated. “Businesses small and large across Texas are doing what it takes to balance their checkbooks in a fiscally responsible manner, and it is critical that the state government conduct business in the same way.”
The State of Texas currently employs 295,882 full-time equivalents (any combination of employees whose hours worked total 40 in one week).
King’s HB 290 would give Texas independent school districts local options and flexibility in testing their students. School districts would have the ability, with approval from the Texas Education Agency, to select an assessment test that best fits their community, taking the place of the current, one-size-fits-all, state-administered STAAR test.