April 5, 2011 — The Texas House on Sunday voted largely along party lines to approve a $164.5 billion two-year budget proposal that reduces state spending by $23 billion and cuts a number of health care programs, the Houston Chronicle reports (Fikac, Houston Chronicle, 4/4). The budget included six amendments that GOP House members passed on Friday to cut family planning grants that, combined with other cuts in the budget proposal, would slash family planning funding by more than 60% (Garrett, Dallas Morning News, 4/2).
More than $40 million dollars that had previously been allocated to family planning services was moved into programs that promote abortion alternatives, fund autism research, help special needs children and support emergency responders and trauma centers (Montgomery, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 4/2).
State Rep. Dawnna Dukes (D) said that the cuts would force most family planning clinics to close and discontinue a Medicaid women's health program that helps low-income women avoid unintended pregnancies. Dukes says the state's Medicaid program spent $2.7 billion on prenatal care in 2009, but "[w]ithout this program, you can expect that to go up two to three times."
State Rep. Wayne Christian (R) said the cuts to family planning programs "indeed mee[t] an anti-abortion agenda. ... Many of us here have been working on it for years" (Dallas Morning News, 4/2).
The budget now moves to the state Senate, where lawmakers have indicated that they will seek to restore some of the funding cuts. The state faces a $27 billion budget gap over the next two years. The House has approved about $4 billion in cuts this fiscal year to fill the gap, as well as a $3.1 billion infusion from the state's rainy day fund (Houston Chronicle, 4/4).