A fight is brewing over a proposed multi-million-dollar fee hike from the state’s Department of Agriculture, with the state’s lieutenant governor telling the agency to “put the brakes on” it.
Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller has said his agency needs the new funds to provide “essential services,” including their “regulatory functions.”
During the 2015 legislative session, Miller’s request for a $50 million budget increase was rebuffed by budget writers. Despite being a former member of the Texas House, evidence of the soured relationship between himself and his colleagues was in public evidence when he was told he could no longer be on the floor of the chamber.
Miller’s spokeswoman told the San Antonio Express News that “without these fee changes, the agency will not be able to accomplish its mission to serve and grow the agriculture industry.”
(It’s unclear precisely how government agencies “grow” any industry; the reverse is most usually true. History shows that government regulation and spending tend to stifle innovation and economic growth. Increasing budgets and fees should be cause for concern, not celebration.)
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says he and members of the state senate “have more questions than answers” about the proposed fee increase. The Senate committee overseeing the ag agency will hold a hearing on the issue in early December. Likewise, more than half of the members of the Texas House have signed a letter asking that the fee-hikes not be implemented at this time. And the Texas Farm Bureau is reportedly “concerned” about the fees, too.
Miller took office in January, replacing Todd Staples who gave up the post in an unsuccessful bid for lieutenant governor.