LegeLand: Reinventing the Budget Wheel
Watson takes aim at roots of budget mess
Austin's Kirk Watson has continued to push his "honesty agenda" in the state Senate, filing 14 bills last week that he says will open up the budgeting process at the Lege and end what he calls the "debt, diversions, and deceptions" that led Texas into its current budget mess. Senate Bills 695-708 would, among other things, require that money intended for specific purposes not be diverted to fill other budget holes; require that more raw budget data be posted online; require the state to report what it collects in fees (aka "stealth taxes"), along with whether those fees were increased and whether they got diverted to other parts of the budget; require state agencies to report the impact of refusing to accept federal money; and end unfunded mandates on cities, counties, and school districts. Watson said the bills were necessary to deter budget writers who "used savings and one-time federal stimulus money to balance the current budget" and "are also likely to rely on savings and one-time accounting gimmicks to balance the next one."
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