Legislators have another chance to bring common sense reform to the budget writing process.
SB 1811, the fiscal matters bill that was a key piece of the budget, died at the hands of a Democrat filibuster on Sunday, including attached language that would make the state’s budget more transparent and easier to understand. But because the first called special session will take up SB 1811 again, legislators have another chance to bring common sense reform to the budget writing process.
Texans originally scored a victory for transparency when freshman legislator Rep. Erwin Cain (R-Sulfur Springs) attached the language of his HB 2804 as an amendment to SB 1811. The amendment addressed several problems with the current budget format, including the uncertainty of where funding is coming from and how it is spent. (We gave a more detailed analysis of the current problems here.)
Rep. Cain’s ideas are simple but effective. The new format would:
- Include a line-item for each specific program or activity administered for an agency
- Specify the amount of the proposed appropriation for each line item
- Cite legal authorization for the program or activity
- State whether the funds are from general revenue, dedicated revenue, federal money, or another source
As we mentioned before, Rep. Cain’s idea for reform received bi-partisan support. His original bill listed Democrat Reps. Mark Strama and Rafael Anchia as co-authors, among others, and Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) championed the Senate Bill companion.
Unfortunately these reforms were killed before they could become law after Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) filibustered SB 1811 on the last day it could be passed. The Governor included fiscal matters relating to passing the budget to the call of the special session however, giving the Legislature another opportunity to enact common sense, bi-partisan reforms that make the budget easier for both Texans and their legislators to understand it.
Dustin Matocha is the Social Media Coordinator for Empower Texans / Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.
Connect with Dustin on Twitter.