Texas’s top Republican lawmakers are asking most state agencies to cut budgets by 5 percent in preparation for the “economic shock” of the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen wrote a letter to heads of state agencies and institutions of higher education asking them to submit a plan identifying the savings by June 15.
“We are confident that Texas will get back to work and continue leading the nation in job growth, economic innovation, and business creation. However, it will take months until we know the true extent of the economic ramifications of COVID-19, and how combating this virus will impact state finances,” they wrote. “To prepare for this economic shock, we must take action today to ensure that the state can continue providing the essential government services that Texans expect.”
The lawmakers suggest agencies pursue cost saving strategies that “will not affect the state’s response to COVID-19.” The state recommends agencies forgo any capital expenditures that can be deferred, any avoidable travel expenditures, as well as any administrative expenses that are not mission critical.
The Texas Division of Emergency Management, the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Texas Workforce Commission, the Texas Military Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety are excluded from the five percent reduction.
“Though state leaders will make difficult decisions in the future, please know that we will not impede your agency’s response to the coronavirus threat or take actions that will harm the public health of this state,” lawmakers wrote. “As Texans recover from this pandemic, it is incumbent that state government continues to maintain mission critical services without placing a greater burden on taxpayers. Your assistance in achieving these goals is imperative.”
Abbott announced the second phase of Texas’s reopening plan on Monday.
The second phase allows restaurants to increase dine-in service to 50 percent capacity and allows public schools in the state to provide in-person summer school as long as the follow social distancing practices.