Texas Tea Party Freshmen Struggle With Budget Realities

Monday, 07 Mar 2011 12:16 PM

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Texas lawmakers elected with tea party support in November are struggling to find a way fill a giant budget hole while keeping promises to cut spending and not raise taxes, the Austin American-Statesman reported Monday.

Eleven freshman Republicans won seats in the House in November and have joined the Tea Party Caucus. They remain opposed to tax hikes but like many of their veteran colleagues they have realized in recent weeks the difficulty of closing a budget gap with spending cuts alone.

Texas is billions of dollars short of what it needs to continue current programs. To avoid tax increases, House and Senate leaders proposed budgets in January that would slash spending on public education and health care — cuts that would affect classrooms, nursing homes and colleges in just about every lawmaker's hometown.

"I think there were a lot of deer-in-the-headlight looks when the budget was laid out," Dan Huberty, one of the freshman Republicans in the Tea Party Caucus.

Lawmakers are struggling to decide whether to raid the state’s $9 billion in reserve funds to help plug the budget hole. Huberty and several others from the Tea Party Caucus said they’re willing to consider tapping into the reserves.

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