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Sat Aug 11, 2012, 11:48 PM

Budget, staff and service cuts considered at Texas Parks and Wildlife [View all]

More Diversion of funds by Perry and Legislature

It's an election year with tea party overtones, the next session of the Texas Legislature is just around the corner, and we know there are rough financial times ahead for state agencies.

Already I'm hearing horror stories from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, some of which are frightening, baffling and just wrong. Park closures, employee layoffs, facility shutdowns.

Parks and Wildlife officials haven't made their Legislative Appropriations Request yet. That comes up in a couple of weeks, which means Executive Director Carter Smith is saying he doesn't know exactly what cuts the department will have to make. But there's no doubt some things, and some people, are going to be cut loose.

"The Legislative Budget Board instructed all state agencies to submit their proposed (fiscal year 2014-15) budgets and exceptional item requests at the end of August," Smith said when I asked him about rumors circulating that TPWD is about to reduce jobs and thus services.

"In addition," Smith said, "the (Legislative Budget Board) and Gov. Perry requested that the agencies submit a schedule of proposed budget cuts equivalent to a 10 percent reduction. For TPWD, that proposed 10 percent reduction equates to a little over $36 million. That is a significant impact to our budget."

Smith declined to elaborate other than to say: "There are no real details I can share about our proposed cut schedule at this juncture as we are still evaluating our options. I will be in a position to share more in the next couple of weeks. Nothing will be finalized until we sort through some significant details."

I can understand that Smith doesn't want to lay out any plans the department has made that would include jobs lost and facilities and services that must be reduced. There's no need to create a panic among employees. But be aware he used the words "our cut schedule."


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white cloud Aug 2012 OP
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