Deep reductions in a House committee's budget proposal would cost Texas hundreds of thousands of jobs through the next two years, according to an analysis released Thursday.
"I've been trying to say this for over a year. I've been trying to say how our economy was bad, and how our shortfall was going to be affecting Texas, and nobody seemed to believe me. But I think reality is probably setting in on that," said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie. "I really didn't realize the extent of the total employment. It's pretty shocking."
"How about if we blame it on the Great Collapse of 2008?"
The Legislative Budget Board's "dynamic economic impact" analysis of the Appropriations-approved budget proposal predicts 271,746 fewer jobs in 2012, and 335,244 fewer in 2013, compared to what total employment would be if revenues and spending remained stable. That includes government and private-sector jobs.
The analysis cautions that the estimate "does not imply the state will lose that many jobs from our current employment level upon enactment" of House Bill 1, as approved by the Appropriations Committee this week.
Instead, it shows Texas would have fewer jobs compared to a scenario in which state spending remained constant relative to the current budget.
Bad economy blamed
"Since available revenue for the 2012-13 biennium is predicted to fall well below that amount, in large part due to the national economic recession, many of these job losses can be attributed to the steep downturn of the Texas economy during the past several years," the LBB analysis said.
"But I thought Rick Perry said Texas was doing great. Back during the campaign season. How about if we say it just won't be that bad, like Dewhurst has been saying?"
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, said the state needs to address the structural budget deficit caused by the 2006 school finance plan, but disputed the LBB's job loss estimates.
"We have a trillion-dollar economy in Texas. There's 9.5 million people employed in Texas. I don't think by any stretch of the imagination the budget that we pass is going to cost many - it may result in hundreds of job losses, but I would really doubt if it would be thousands," he said. "Most economic analysts would say that if you raise taxes to increase government spending, you'll cost jobs."
Travis Tullos, regional economist with Austin-based consulting firm TXP, described the LBB's prediction as a "worst-case scenario, generally speaking."
"If you were to increase taxes sufficient to cover that deficit - whatever that ends up being - that would be more deleterious to the economy than going ahead with a more conservative budget," Tullos said.
Vertigo-inducing spin. My question: how's that voting-a-straight-Republican-ticket-for-the-past-sixteen-years thing workin' out for ya?