Thursday, October 15, 2015

More interim charges from Patrick, this time over Fiscal Policy

"Therefore by their fruits you will know them."
Matthew 7:20

Lt. Governor Patrick released several fiscal policy related interim charges yesterday; highlights:
  • Property Tax Process: Study the property tax process, including the appraisal system, and recommend ways to promote transparency, simplicity, and accountability by all taxing entities. (Charge to a select subcommittee on Property Tax Reform and Relief)
  • Reduce Tax Burden: Examine and develop options to further reduce the tax burden on property owners.(Charge to a select subcommittee on Property Tax Reform and Relief)
  • Franchise Tax: Study the benefits, including the dynamic effects, of continuing to phase out the franchise tax.  Consider alternate approaches to funding the Property Tax Relief Fund.
  • Spending Limit: Examine options and make recommendations for strengthening restriction on appropriations established in Article VIII Section 22 of the state constitution, including related procedures defined in statute. Consider options for ensuring available revenues above spending limit are reserved for tax relief.
  • Fiscal Responsibility:  Review the budgeting format of other states, such as whether they use strategy-based budgeting, program-based budgeting, or some other approach and discuss the level of transparency with each approach. Review and make recommendations to reduce state debt liabilities, including state pension liability. Consider how to incentivize state agencies, boards, and commissions to identify and realize savings to  taxpayers.
  • Sales Tax Holiday: Review the state's current sales tax holiday structure and determine its economic benefit to the state.  Evaluate and consider the merits of any potential expansion of the tax holiday either in the application of the sales tax exemption or the timing of the holiday. 
  •  Occupational Licensing: Review all occupations licensed under Texas law to determine the extent to which continued state regulation and licensure is required to protect public health and safety. Examine methods to ensure greater legislative oversight of new regulations, scope, and necessity of certain licenses and make recommendations for state licenses that should be repealed or transitioned to private-sector enforcement.
Bottom Line: The Lt. Governor is clearly laying down markers for structural tax and spending reforms, time will tell if he has a partner on the other side of the building with whom to work.

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