Friday, January 10, 2014

Budget Realities of the 83rd Texas Legislature

TPPF policy orientation
Panel: Budget realities of the 83rd Texas legislature

Talmadge Heflin (TPPF); Brian Domitrovic (University of Houston); Chuck DeVore (TPPF); Texas Rep. Sylvester Turner (D - Houston); Texas Rep. John Otto (R - ?!?)

Brian Domitrovic:
  • Growth has been under 2% since 2007; Texas is an unmatched global economic model in that time.
  • Meet the challenge of prosperity by keeping govt. small
    • Tax receipts always spike during prosperity; the challenge is not to spend the money
    • Taxes have to be cut, considerably, to deny this 'revenue gusher' to the legislature
  • Budget masters played games in 2013  
  • If there are worthwhile state expenses, then current expenditures should be cut to pay for them.
Chuck DeVore:
  • California has, proportionally, 45% more citizens in poverty than Texas.
  • When the 83rd lege backfilled the2012/13 budget hole, they blew up the baseline for 2014/15
  • Medicaid is crowding out roads in the Texas budget, which is why they play games with the gas tax.
John Otto:
  • Made several excuses for 2012/13 budget gimmicks, including a cheap shot at Susan Combs.
Sylvester Turner:
  • From time-to-time you need to go back to zero-based budgeting
  • Most of the Texas budget is federally mandated spending that occurs before the legislature meets.
  • In 2013, Texas had the lowest per-capita 'mental health' spending in the country.
    • Personal note: Why is that a bad thing?!?
Fixing the Budget:
  • Zero-based budgeting for every state agency every 4-8 years.
    • TxDOT will undergo this in the next session
    • Budget 'sunset'
  • Program based budgeting - Line item visibility for every program rather than conglomerating dozens of programs under some broad heading.
  • Eliminate the margins tax - It costs businesses more to comply than the state receives in receipts

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