C.H.I.P.: Many Kids, Left Behind
That's the latest "economy" forced upon budget-writers by leadership orders to bridge a $9.9 billion gap without new taxes. Even abolishing C.H.I.P. would not avert the need to cut Medicaid reimbursements by one-third -- thus driving many doctors and hospitals out of Medicaid altogether. Even while they were proposing the cuts, subcommittee members said they don't believe they will be enacted. Rep. Craig Eiland, D-Galveston, recommended the proposal as a way to save the Medicaid drug benefits, but insisted he won't vote for such a budget and told the San Antonio Express-News, "This is the best we can do -- and it's terrible. It makes you want to puke." Subcommittee Chair Arlene Wohlgemuth, R-Burleson, said, "This is just a definition of the problem. It's not taking into account the solution to the problem," and released a statement that finding funds to restore C.H.I.P., at least in part, remains a "top priority."
Her assurances were echoed by Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, both of whom said they want to save C.H.I.P. -- but don't know how. Dewhurst has suggested securitizing the state's tobacco lawsuit funds, at best a temporary solution, and said that the state's revenue situation may improve. That notion was disputed by Deputy Comptroller Billy Hamilton, who said sales-tax revenues continue to decline, and deficit projection may in fact increase.