Ninety-six percent of delegates to the state Republican convention want zero-based budgeting at all levels of government. Such statement of support came from the first-ever use of plank-by-plank voting on the Republican Party of Texas platform.
One of the most affirmed planks in the platform, grassroots Republicans called for the immediate enactment of zero-based budgeting, a process by which budget-writers start from “zero” to determine how much money an agency or program truly needs.
Traditionally, the legislature utilizes what’s commonly referred to as “incremental” budgeting – starting with an agency’s last appropriation amount and increasing it incrementally based on available revenue funds. Such a practice is inherently flawed as it assumes all aspects of government are running efficiently and revenue is spent appropriately.
Zero-based budgeting on the other hand requires legislators to spend more time scrutinizing the budget, justifying expenditures, and checking the growth of government bureaucracy.
State lawmakers have utilized zero-based budgeting before. During the 2003 legislative session under the leadership of House Appropriations Chairman Talmadge Heflin, the Legislature was able to shore up a $10 billion revenue shortfall without raising taxes.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick charged the Senate Finance Committee with studying the budgeting formats of other states, signaling his and the Senate’s interest in pushing zero-based budgeting forward during the 85th Legislature.
Speaker Joe Straus on the other hand has not allowed a zero-based budgeting bill to come to the House floor for a vote during his tenure.