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State lawmakers hold meeting on fiscal cliff

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If Congress goes over the fiscal cliff later this month the problem will drop right into the laps of state lawmakers. They return to Austin next month, and Thursday a special crisis committee hearing was held to determine just how bad it could be.

With compromise just out of reach lawmakers are trying to determine how much damage could be done.

Members of the special crisis committee Tuesday listened to doomsday predictions from local officials like the mayor of Killeen, Dan Corbin.

Corbin believes his city, which is home to the largest military installation in the nation, will be forced into making painful reductions in public services.

"Hopefully we'll be able to find a way to do it with as little harm as possible, we're going to have to prioritize public safety issues first," said Mayor Corbin.

Going over the fiscal cliff will not only hit federal forces, the crisis will also run through the Texas National Guard.

"We are going to be hurt mostly in readiness, it's an economic impact for us, we're nearly a billion dollar organization and we get cut $100 million, which is money back into to Texas and it really equates into not being ready," said General John Nichols.

Committee members were also warned the Workforce Commission will put almost 400 its own on the unemployment line, close offices and scale back job training programs.

"You did say, a minute ago part of the cuts will have an impact then on part of the trust fund which then in turn would raise the unemployment insurance rate for employers," said Committee Chair Linda Harper-Brown during the hearing.

The Republican from Irving hopes to minimize the overall impact, but it won't be easy. Legislative number crunchers estimate going over the cliff will cost Texas $565 million in federal funding and the loss of nearly 4,000 jobs.

Democratic Representative Dawanna Dukes of Austin believes the impact will be felt in classrooms and that critical health care programs, like screenings for cancer and AIDS, will be lost.

"The state is highly dependent on federal funding and some of the programs the state receives $9 for every $1 it puts in to fund the fund the population of Texas' needs, no the state of Texas, the reason why it can't secede is because it needs the federal government and it needs those federal funds, the safety nets will be gone and we will be like a third world country," said Dukes.

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