Texas Dealing With $11 Billion Shortfall

Texas – Dozens of tax exemptions drew scrutiny as the Texas House Ways and Means committee prepares to deal with an estimated budget shortfall of $11 billion.

About 150 lobbyists and interest groups filled a hearing room yesterday in Austin.

A representative from the state comptroller's office said Texas lost $2.7 million in potential tax revenue in 2009 from exemptions on solar and wind energy devices.

But Steve Taylor with solar manufacturer Applied Materials and others urged lawmakers to take the long view -- to attract such companies to Texas.

Committee chairman Rene Oliveira said lawmakers won't remove property tax exemptions on veterans or churches and won't raise taxes on the sick, food or healthcare.

Some estimates have pegged the shortfall at more than $15 billion as lawmakers prepare for the 2011 legislative session.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.