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Priority one for state lawmakers meeting in Austin next week is to plug a $25 billion budget shortfall. Just how big is that? Well, if you shut down all the prisons, laid off every state trooper, eliminated every service except public education, higher education and health care, you still wouldn't cut $25 billion.

Governor Rick Perry and others have suggested Texas drop out of Medicaid, the federal-state health program for low income children, elderly and the disabled. It's Texas's fastest growing expense.

BJ Austin reports that even without future cuts, disabled Texans who qualify for Medicaid services can't get them.

Credit: nifwlseirff (cc) flickr.com

Dallas, TX –

Letters from Sendai has moved. Visit the new page at kera.org/sendai.

Dallas, TX –

If you lose a job with health insurance, the government requires employers to offer you the chance to keep those benefits for 18 months. It's called COBRA. But COBRA premiums can be expensive so the Obama Economic Recovery Plan created a more affordable COBRA benefit for laid off employees. In our Monday KERA economy segment, Alexis Yancey reports on how it may help struggling families.

Dallas, TX –

A half-million people have benefited from the Obama Administration's program to help struggling homeowners since it began last march. But to qualify you have to have income. So what do you do if you're unemployed? In KERA's Monday economy segment, Alexis Yancey reports on an option for those with little or no income. It's called forbearance.

Dallas, TX –

A U.S. Bureau of Land Management lab in Denver will test water samples collected Tuesday at Lake Lavon about 15 miles east of McKinney. Biologists want to know if invasive zebra mussels have spread to the lake and beyond. KERA's Shelley Kofler says the economic consequences could be devastating for the entire Trinity basin.

On the northeastern side of Lake Lavon biologists from Texas Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers launched their boats.

Dallas, TX –

Family pocketbooks may seem a little emptier today as North Texas parents send their children back to school. Many have had to scramble for classroom supplies, clothes, school shots and more. But in today's economy segment, Bill Zeeble says nutritious school meals still offer a big bang for the buck. Bill explains why they're something every family can afford.

Dallas, TX –

Financial assistance may still be available this fall for cash-strapped college students. In today's Monday segment on the economy, KERA's Shelley Kofler visits the financial aid office at the University of Texas at Arlington. She found encouraging news for families hit hard by the economy.

Dallas, TX –

Dallas, TX – A Preston Hollow neighborhood in Dallas is expected to become a "gated" community today. KERA's BJ Austin says it's preparation for the arrival of the Bush's - the President and First Lady Laura Bush.

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