From the Office of State Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: June 1, 2003
CONTACT: Melissa Sattley (512) 463-0120, cell 947-4046
Zandra Zuniga (361) 299-2788

Sen. Hinojosa Votes Against Budget Because of Damaging Cuts to Working Class Citizens

AUSTIN -- State Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa voted in opposition to the state's budget Sunday, saying the cuts will have a devastating effect on working class citizens.

"With this budget, the state spends more per day on a convict than it does on a working class citizen," Sen. Hinojosa said. "The cuts we are making now are shortsighted and they will cost us three times as much in the future."

Sen. Hinojosa noted several failures of the appropriations bill, HB 1, during a debate over the budget on the senate floor Sunday.

The budget would cost his district millions in Medicaid and CHIP federal match funding, said Sen. Hinojosa.

"With this budget the county of Hidalgo will lose $198 million in CHIP and Medicaid funds," he said. "Nueces county will lose $59 million."

Brooks County would lose approximately $3.5 million and Jim Wells would lose about $13.3 million in funds.

The senator also noted that Hidalgo County -- the largest recipient of the state's indigent county healthcare fund -- would only receive about one-third of the funds it receives now.

"The leadership made a promise of 'no new taxes' but what the leadership is really doing here is shifting the tax burden to local government," he said. "The people whose lives are affected most by these cuts will have to make up the difference."

During the debate, Sen. Hinojosa also noted that teachers would have their health insurance reimbursements reduced by 50 percent.

" I cannot go home to my constituents and say we did a good job," he said.

The senator said it was unfortunate that the senate had voted down a proposal to add a $1 a pack fee to cigarettes. The tax could have generated $1.5 billion to be spent on health and human services and on education costs. The proposal was narrowly defeated in the Senate.

"The state is reducing its investment in public education and shifting the costs to local taxpayers," Sen. Hinojosa said. "The state spent 46% last biennium and it will go down to 40% this upcoming biennium."

After about two hours of debate Sunday the budget passed 24-7.

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