AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A proposed Texas state budget that cuts a staggering $5 billion from public schools has been released as the state faces a $15 billion shortfall.
Public education would bear the brunt of nearly $14 billion in cuts. The draft generally eliminates financial aid for new college students and ends funding for four community colleges.
The proposal for 2012-13 would mean the loss of 9,600 state jobs over the next two years. The reduction is smaller than the shortfall because of $1.4 billion in savings requested by the state leaders from the current budget. Some analysts say the true shortfall could be closer to $27 billion.
The draft is just the beginning of a long process, which probably won't be finalized until summer.
Here's more on the proposed two-year state budget:
-- The plan would eliminate 9,600 jobs, including more than 1,500 in the prison system.
-- The plan would slash $772 million for colleges and universities. Two-year colleges that would close are Brazosport College in Lake Jackson, Frank Phillips College in Borger, Odessa College and Ranger College.
-- Medicaid reimbursement would be reduced 10 percent for doctors, hospitals and nursing homes. -- Texas contributions to the state employee retirement fund would be reduced from 6.95 percent to 6 percent.
-- The attorney general would charge an annual child support service fee, a monthly child support processing fee and an electronic filing of documents fee.
A preliminary spending plan released Tuesday night proposes millions of dollars in new fees. State employees and retirees who smoke would pay a $30-a-month "tobacco user monthly premium surcharge," raising an estimated $42 million for the budget.
There are also several new fees, worth about $28 million, that would be imposed by the Texas Attorney General's office, among them an "annual child support service fee," a "monthly child support processing fee," an "electronic filing of documents fee," and a "comprehensive development agreement review fee."
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