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Dewhurst, Craddick put budget execution items, LBB meeting on hold

Austin, TX –

Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and Speaker Tom Craddick today announced that they will postpone, until October, the Legislative Budget Board meeting currently set for September 21 due to the impact of Hurricane Katrina in Texas.

"Due to current uncertainties surrounding the non-reimbursed costs to Texas of Hurricane Katrina, I think it is prudent to wait several weeks until we know what Texas' post-Katrina obligations are for evacuees before we start spending our limited reserves," Lt. Governor David Dewhurst said. "To be fiscally conservative, Speaker Craddick and I have asked Senate Finance Committee Chairman Steve Ogden and House Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts to review the spending requests which we have received and to balance those requests with the potential impact of Hurricane Katrina on our state's budget and economy."

The more than 300,000 evacuees who have been moved to Texas will have an impact on the state's public and higher education systems, health care, Medicaid rolls, and all public sector and social services.

"Every issue that Governor Perry brought forth for budget execution are certainly items we plan to study further," Speaker Tom Craddick said. "We agree that many of the recommendations for funding will need to be financed in the near future. However, it is more financially prudent for us to delay action until we can further assess what we will need to help the victims of this disaster."

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has shipped nearly $295 million of textbooks associated with Proclamation 2002. The Lt. Governor and Speaker will be sending a letter this week to TEA instructing them to pay the publishers for the textbooks. The letter will clarify that TEA will be reimbursed when the Legislative Budget Board meets next month.

Currently the State's budget totals more than $139 billion and provides flexibility for agencies to deal with emergencies in the short-term.

"Our hearts go out to the people of Louisiana who have lost their loved ones, homes and their belongings, and we, as Texans, will do everything we can to help those here in Texas through the coming days, weeks, and months ahead," said Lt. Governor Dewhurst.

Speaker Craddick added, "Texas will continue to reach out to the victims of this unspeakable disaster. Our prayers are with those who have suffered as a result of Hurricane Katrina."

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