Monday, July 29, 2013

More Transportation Shenanigans from Texas House Republicans

A couple of must read pieces from Empower Texans on transportation shenanigans currently playing out in the Texas House; from Transportation U-Turn:
As the Wall Street Journal and the Texas Public Policy Foundation have independently verified, the legislature went on a wild spending spree in 2013 – spending approximately 25% more than in the 2011 session. And they just can’t stop.

The current special session features a call to provide better funding for transportation. Legislators are instead just creating new diversions for spending without any real protections. (Sensible policies, like ending the 25 percent gas-tax diversion to public education, or dedicating the vehicle sales tax to roads, are being ignored.)

Meanwhile, lawmakers want to start diverting half of the money flowing into the Economic Stabilization Fund (the so-called “rainy day” account) over to TxDOT. In the first special session, conservatives successfully inserted a constitutional “floor” ensuring the ESF couldn’t be drained and left for dead.

Yet for all practical purposes, the new compromise in the current special would do away with the idea of a protective floor. Rather than constitutionally protect the Economic Stabilization Fund by a establishing a defined floor, spendoholic legislators want to give the Legislative Budget Board – comprised of the House Speaker, the Lieutenant Governor and their appointees – the authority to set it.

Not a sound idea, unless the goal is to never have a meaningful floor.
 From 'Optional' ESF Protection:
You may recall the legislative members of the LBB are also charged with picking the “spending limit” for budgetary purposes. Of course, the LBB has always exceeded the “population-plus-inflation” figure, using a fictional “projected personal income growth” as their unlimited limit  – essentially allowing them to set a moving target depending on their spending appetites for the upcoming session.
 Whatever happens in the next few days, we're going to have to beat this crap at the polls in November....

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