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Prisons, mental hospitals escape Texas leaders' budget axe

State leaders facing a growing budget shortfall will exempt prison operations, inmate treatment programs, state mental hospitals, and some education programs from 5 percent spending cuts, a person with knowledge of the process said Tuesday.  Leaders decided against whacking programs that maintain public safety, hold down future spending or improve the Texas economy. Their choices eliminate about one-fifth of $1.7 billion in savings that state agencies offered up, said the official, who isn't authorized to speak publicly about the decision and did so only on condition of anonymity.

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