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Fiesta in EC Paso ! Eat! Drink! Dance! Subscribe! and Win Lunch with Molly Ivins!!! Come support the best little progressive magazine in Texas. El Paso’s Subscription Fiesta is one of several parties around the state to introduce more Texans to great writing and reporting. So come party! Bring your friends! Buy a subscription and get entered to the Lunch With Molly Ivins Lottery! As winner, you’ll fly to Austin The Texas Observer’s Subscription Fiesta Saturday, June 14, 7 p.m. $3 Cover. Bridge Center for Contemporary Art, 1112 E. Yandell Music by La Tigresa Nortena Readings by El Paso Authors p House Appropriations Committee set up a separate budget category of “programs and strategies considered to be desirable and necessary that are not budgeted.” Funding goals were established, but with one caveat: “The descriptions and sums in this Article do not represent items of appropriation, but reflect’ the intent of the Legislature that funding of these programs and strategies be given consideration at such times as additional resources become available.” All of this sounds good enough until you consider what’s on the biennial “Article XI Wish List.” There are “frivolous” items that provide talking points for perennial guardians of the taxpayers’ dollar \(Houston Republican Talmadge Heflin comes to sity Museum; $1,000,000 to allow Parks and Wildlife to develop local parks; $1,429,592 to replace funding that Congress cut from the Texas Commission on the Arts; $70,000 for the Reading Initiative proposed by the Governor and Laura Bush. But the list also includes $1 million in early child care funding for children whose parents are about to be moved off the welfare rolls; $386 million in nursing facility and hospice payments for the Department of Human Services; $20 million for children’s mental health programs; $8.7 million for inhome and family support for mentally retarded people; and hundreds of millions for programs in the state’s universities. After the tax-relief plan died, the fight for its last viable component”the Surplus” began, with the Governor arguing that a billion dollars could be returned to homeowners by increasing the homestead exemption. But the Center for Public Policy Priorities \(the public interest advocacy group founded by a group of Benedictine nuns that some around the Capitol refer to as with its own proposal. It is far more enlightened than anything else found among the stacks of photocopied proposals sitting on legislators’ desks. And although it might be too latelike the Governor’s lastminute, billion-dollar givebackit is worthy of consideration. If nothing comes of it now, it is the beginning of an interim debate about funding of social services. The list includes the following recommendations: $23 million for services that would allow elderly and disabled Texans to continue to be cared for in their homes rather than in institutions. $200 million that would reduce but not eliminate a waiting list of 46,000 people with disabilities, complex health conditions, or frailty due to advanced age, who need assistance in order to remain in their homes instead of being cared for in institutions. $296 million to provide assistance to 8,000 elderly legal immigrants who will lose Supplemental Security Income, and the 141,000 elderly, disabled, and poor legal immigrants who will lose food stamp benefits. $148 million for Texas Assistance to Needy Families block grant funding that would help children moved off welfare rolls. $200 million for badly needed public school infrastructure. $200 million in eliminated Medicaid funding to restore medical care for children in public schools and foster homes Just an excerpt from the Center’s proposalitself drawn from the hundreds of items in Article XI of the House Appropriations budget actbelies the notion that there is a budget surplus. By the time the next Legislature convenes, George W. might be baseball commissioner. The problems he walked away from when he declared that unanticipated revenue is a surplus will be with us for a while. L.D. 4 THE TEXAS OBSERVER MAY 9, 1997