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Senator Dan Patrick has once again demonstrated that he is not afraid to patrickrock the boat in order to stand up for taxpayers.   He not only voted against a $152 billion Senate budget ($2 billion more than the House version) but further listed over $2.9 billion in specific cuts he would make.   This is a gutsy move on behalf of taxpayers.  His proposed cuts appear below.  Of course, there are arguments that some of these programs are within the legitimate role of government and deserve funding, but Senator Patrick is right on target and, at the very least, these cuts should have been debated.  

Some like local parks and "promoting LP gas usage" are self-evidently not core functions of state government. 

Patrick's list is particularly courageous given that he proposed possibly eliminating some of everyone's sacred cows like the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, an agency that in the past has been supported  by some on socially conservative grounds of restricting alcohol use.  Of course, alcoholism has only gotten worse so this may be yet another area where there is indeed a social problem, but another taxpayer goverment agency is not the solution.  The Commission's Byzantine regulations, many of which involve creating monopolies in the distribution of alcoholic beverages, often bear no relation to public health or safety and those rules needed to protect the public could be enforced by the Department of Public Safety and local police forces if TABC was eliminated

Without further ado, here is the list:

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Commission of the Arts (eliminate)                                                                                                 

$4.7 Million

Validation:             Arts are supported through private enterprise.  Federal pass-through grants available to the state can be handled directly through the

Texas Education Agency. Fiscal Research and Studies (reduction)                                                                                         

 $7.2 Million

Validation:            

Data collected has been of limited value.  Moreover, publications produced through this program are often produced at high costs. 

Energy Office        (eliminate general revenue funding)                                                                

$2.7 Million

Validation:             Funds seek to promote greater efficiency in government facilities.  This is a federal initiative that should be funded fully with federal dollars. Texas Enterprise Fund (eliminate)                                                                                                    

$182 Million

Validation:             Is it truly necessary to entice businesses to come to Texas with tax money, or are we masking our problems with regulatory and fiscal policies with government handouts? 

Texas Emerging Technology Fund (eliminate)                                                                               

 $200 Million

Validation:             Once again, is it truly necessary to entice businesses with tax money, or are we masking our problems with regulatory and fiscal policies with government handouts? Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund (eliminate)                                                                   

 $5.8 Million

Validation:             The Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund (TIF) tax was set to expire, but it appears it will live on in perpetuity. 

State Office of Risk Management (reduction)                                                                

$2.4 Million

Validation:             Administration costs equal 10% of claims paid.  Administration costs need to be reduced to provide the cost savings. 

Colonias Initiative (eliminate)                                                                                                           

$1.1 MillionValidation:           

  The Texas Secretary of State administers this program to promote services in areas typically inhabited by illegal immigrants. 

Office of State-Federal Relations (eliminate)                                                                                  

 $1.3 Million

Validation:            

Texas has two United States Senators and thirty-two United States Representatives to represent us in Washington.  This program assumes they aren't able to represent Texas properly. 

HIV/STD and Hepatitis C awareness (eliminate)                                                                          

 $296 MillionValidation:            

Resources are already available through schools, doctor's offices and health clinics.   

TB, Hansen's and Refugee Health (eliminate)                                                                

 $37.8 Million

Validation:            

These programs were created when tuberculosis and leprosy were a greater threat than they currently are. 

Zoonotic diseases (eliminate)                                                                                                           

$9 Million

Validation:             Persons who work with animals should be personally responsible for preventing themselves from contracting diseases from those animals. 

Abstinence education (eliminate)                                                                                                    

 $10.7 Million

Validation:             This is a family education issue, not one to be mandated in public schools.   

Substance abuse prevention and intervention (eliminate)                                                           

$122 Million

Validation:             Substance abuse is illegal, still persons make the choice to violate the law.  Information about substance abuse is widely available without state government spending. 

Student Success Initiatives (eliminate)                                                                                          

$823 MillionValidation:            

This initiative financially rewards failure in schools.  There is sufficient funding for such programs in the Foundation School Program. 

School Improvement and Support Programs (eliminate)                                                              

$318 MillionValidation:            

This initiative should be a constant under regular programs.  There is sufficient funding for such programs in the Foundation School Program. 

Educational Technology (eliminate)                                                                                

$84 MillionValidation:            

The term "technology" is often used as an excuse to spend more government money.  This program is not a departure from that movement. 

Regional Education Service Centers (eliminate general revenue funding)                

 $43 Million

Validation:            

These centers are private businesses that are highly subsidized by the state. 

Fifth Year Accounting Students (eliminate)                                                                                   

$1.1 Million

Validation:             The accounting industry is healthy and graduates often well paid upon graduation.  There is no reason accounting students need a subsidy more than students of any other subject. 

Close the Gaps – Research (eliminate)                                                                                             

 $8.4 Million

Validation:             There is sufficient money available through private funds and the federal government. 

Close the Gaps – Quality/Participation (eliminate)                                                                         

$22.4 Million

Validation:             Special funding for junior colleges that have redundant appropriations in other areas of the budget. 

Special Item Support (eliminate)                                                                                                       

 $582 Million

Validation:            

Specialized programs at many universities that have little to do with education.  Items such as economic development should not compete for our critical education dollars.  These programs seem to encourage universities to create spending programs for the sake of spending money. 

Public Integrity Unit – Travis County (eliminate)                                                                           

$6.7 Million

Validation:             Public officials can be investigated and prosecuted anywhere in the state.  However, only the Travis County District Attorney receives state funding. 

Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (eliminate)                                                                       

 $72 Million

Validation:             This agency was created just after the repeal of prohibition, and is no longer necessary.  The functions of the TABC are covered by other law enforcement agencies and thus should be folded into those agencies. 

Local Park Grants (eliminate)                                                                                                             

$20 Million

Validation:             It is the responsibility of local governments to fund construction and maintenance of local parks not sate government. 

Promote LP Gas Usage (eliminate)                                                                                                    $9 Million

Validation:            

LP Gas companies are much more capable and positioned to promote their business than the state. 

Office of Rural Community Affairs (Merge to other agency; save general revenue funds)

$5 MillionValidation:            

This office should be merged back into the Department of Housing and Community Affairs this would save general revenues. 

Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner (eliminate)                                                    

 $8.4 Million

Validation:             Competition regulates the industry and individuals benefit from attractive rates.  There is no need for government interference in consumer choice. 

Funeral Service Commission (eliminate)                                                                                          

 $1.2 Million

Validation:             De-regulate the funeral industry and eliminate the agency that limits competition and consumer choice. 

Board of Professional Geoscientists (eliminate)                                                                            

 $858 Thousand

Validation:            

The agency limits competition and consumer choice and there is little evidence the agency was or is necessary. 

Department of Insurance (eliminate certain programs)                                                 

$37 Million

Validation:             De-regulation would reduce insurance costs and be good for consumers.  Funding to investigate fraud is still critical. 

Loss Control Programs (eliminate)                                                                                                   

$5.2 Million

Validation:            

Government should encourage private businesses to build sturdy structures, it should require those businesses to bear all the risks.                                                                                                                

Total:                      $2,929,958,000 

Senator Patrick has authored SB 1190, which would create a Texas Spending Commission to find waste, fraud and abuse in state government.  The commission, modeled after President Reagan's Grace Commission, would have audit powers over state agencies so they could report to the Legislature ways to cut spending.