Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Laying the Foundation for Gimmick Free Bugeting


"You shall have honest scales, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt."
Leviticus 19:36

"Supplemental appropriations" are a measure the Legislature uses to hide spending increases.  It's how they continue to lie about the 26% spending increase last session.  They're up to the same thing next session and TPPF is calling them out:
Don’t be fooled by the claims that Texas’ current state budget is conservative.

First, the budget increase far outpaced population growth and inflation when considering an apples-to-apples comparison. Second, Texans may soon fund an even larger state government if reasonable steps aren’t taken to avoid busting the constitutional spending limit.

....

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission recently suggested in their legislative appropriations request that more funds will be needed for the upcoming biennium. However, they estimate that higher caseloads and rising medical costs during the current budget cycle could require passage of a much larger $2.6 billion supplemental bill early next session. This amount pushes total state spending up to $204 billion for a whopping 10-percent budget increase.

Since the federal government picks up 60 percent of Medicaid costs and the state funds the rest, the state’s tab would be roughly $1 billion. You can quickly see that the state is on track to bust the constitutional spending limit by $737 million, since initial appropriations were only $263 million under last session’s $85.2 billion spending limit.

....

Many Texans know all too well what it’s like to live on a tight monthly budget. Budgeting in this fashion is stressful but necessary to live within one’s means. As the end of the month approaches, every purchase must be carefully considered to break even.

Though this applies to Texas families, the Texas Legislature plays by a different set of rules. Despite a spending limit that theoretically binds legislators’ expenditures of general revenue not dedicated by the constitution, they can bust the limit with a simple majority vote.

Such an act would grow the footprint of state government while the base for all future budgets ratchets up. This would cost financially prudent families more to fund state spending while giving them less to budget monthly — from no fault of their own. With fewer dollars exchanging hands, the economy would tend to slow as well.
Read the whole thing here; read TPPF's new report on this topic here.

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