Thursday, May 14, 2020

#TXLEGE: Jane Nelson Gives Us an Idea

"There is desirable treasure,
And oil in the dwelling of the wise,
But a foolish man squanders it."
Proverbs 21:20

A leading lawmaker has announced the state budget process will require every agency to utilize zero-based budgeting in the wake of a projected shortfall due to the Chinese coronavirus and government-ordered shutdowns that have devastated the Texas economy.

“As I meet with each agency to review their appropriation requests, I will begin at zero,” said State Sen. Jane Nelson (R–Denton), the head of the Senate Finance Committee which will prepare the state next budget.

Requiring zero-based budgeting—a powerful tool to rein in expanding bureaucracy and administrative bloat—for every agency in every budget has been a legislative priority of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility for years.
Yes. Absolutely. One Hundred Percent. Plus one.

However, even if Nelson is successful, this won't be the last time we need this level of fiscal cleansing.  Unfortunately, this level of fiscal cleansing is difficult to achieve.  It only ever seems to happen during major economic downturns.

It needs to become a regular thing.

This gives us an idea: Why not make zero-based budgeting part of the sunset process?!?

Agencies already have to go through sunset.  They already have to review their operations.  They already have to dedicate the resources.  While they're at it, why not make them build their budget from scratch?!?

Bottom Line: Nelson's directive is a worthwhile response to the current crisis.  But the current crisis will certainly not be the last crisis.  Zero-based budgeting as part of the sunset process will inevitably make us stronger whenever next time inevitably shows up.

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