January 21, 2013 – State leaders are proclaiming their dedication to a clearer, more honest budgeting process, but their starting-point spending plans show they’ve got a long way to go. House and Senate leaders noted their respective plans show an overall spending decrease from the current two-year budget, once they pay this fiscal cycle’s lingering IOUs. But that’s only because they are moving $6 billion off the books. For more than two decades, patient payments to higher education institutions that provide medical care have been included in the Texas budget’s bottom line. This time, those payments won’t be included. There are reasons for the change: state officials don’t control the money, and other local university income is also off the books.