in Houston, Texas
Texas House members cut staff, office budgets; state faces $10 billion to $27 billion shortfall
Friday, Jan 14, 2011, 10:39AM CST
By Mark Lisheron

Grudging. Grudging. All right, there, we did it. Cocktail clap for Texas House members and their unanimous vote to cut their staff and office budgets.

With the estimates of a state budget shortfall shooting around like a laser light show from $10 billion to upwards of $27 billion, the bit of housekeeping done by the House and reported on by the Dallas Morning News is much closer to symbolic than draconian on the fiscal belt-tightening scale.

By a vote of 140-0 the House volunteered to cut the monthly budget out of which it pays for staff salaries, office rent and supplies from $13,250 a month to $11,925 a month while the House is in session and $11,500 afterward.

Employing the Texas Watchdog calculator, if every one of the 150 members was to use every one of its allotted dollars every day of every month this year under the old budget the House would have spent almost $23.8 million. The voluntary reduction - if everyone spends the maximum amount - would drop to $21 million an annual savings of $2.8 million. That works out to about .01 percent of that top budget shortfall estimate. The real total is almost certainly (at least we hope) going to be much less than the maximum.

But what the heck. Everyone must do their part. "We need to set the example," Rep. Charlie Geren, chariman of the House Administrative Committee, said. "We've asked the agencies to cut theirs. We need to be responsible and cut ours."

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or

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Photo of a calculator by flickr user Dottie Mae, used via a Creative Commons license.

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