Thursday, February 2, 2017
Will the 85th #TXLEGE actually revive Old School BUDGET GIMMICKS?!?
"He who walks with integrity walks securely,
But he who perverts his ways will become known."
In what seems to be an emerging motif for this legislative session, both chambers are (again) attempting to engage in a slight of hand while attention is focused elsewhere; fortunately, TPPF smoked them out.
Here's what's happening: Because the Texas Legislature only meets every other year, state government in Texas has a two year budget cycle. That means there's a lot of guesswork that goes into the back end of a two-year budget. Therefore, it's typical for the legislature to low-ball costs for the back end, then come back and pass a supplemental appropriations bill for the current two year cycle at the beginning of the next legislative session.
To be clear: There's nothing inherently wrong with supplemental appropriations. Used properly, supplemental appropriations are a wise cash-flow management strategy. The problem is that the legislature has a bad habit of using supplemental appropriations bills to hide massive spending increases when nobody is looking.
Here's why it works: If you hide a massive spending increase in a supplemental bill, it jacks up what's called the "baseline" which allows them to pretend the budget for the next two-year cycle isn't growing as much as it actually is. [Author's Note: To put it in nerdy math terms, if you increase the denominator it lowers the percentage change when you later increase the numerator.]
They last attempted this nonsense four years ago. In 2013, the year of the infamous 26% spending increase, they split the afore mentioned spending increase between the supplemental and the final budget. We chided the disingenuous media for willfully misrepresenting this process at the time.
Unfortunately, as the TPPF numbers above indicate, the current plans for a supplemental appropriations bill revive this gimmick; the biggest shame is that the budget was the one thing they did a "reasonably not crappy" job on last session.
Bottom Line: We'll have to see how this plays out, but this is NOT an encouraging sign for anything related to this session.
Senate Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson: (512) 463-0112
House Speaker Joe Straus: (512) 463-1000
Grassroots leaders from around the state released the following letter to legislative leadership last night: