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Summary: HB 1025 is the second supplemental appropriation bill of the session, and it allocates approximately $874.9 million to various state agencies, including $174 million from the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) for costs associated with wildfires that swept Texas in summer 2011.
Analysis: This Legislature’s first supplemental appropriation, HB 10, made necessary appropriations to Medicaid and Public Education to make up for the underfunding created by budget gimmicks of the 82nd Legislature. TPPA supported HB 10 because the state is required to pay its bills, even when those bills are a result of budgeting gimmicks by a previous Legislature.
The purpose of a supplemental appropriation bill is to pay for spending that accrues from unforeseen circumstances that could not be budgeted for in advance. HB 1025 makes four appropriations that draw upon the ESF to pay for wildfire response and repair, costs which exceeded the amount budgeted. These are unforeseen expenditures that legitimately meet the threshold for necessitating a supplemental appropriation. TPPA supports these appropriations.
However, HB 1025 is wrought with unnecessary spending that does not meet the standard for supplemental appropriations and should be considered under the normal appropriations process. For example, HB 1025 provides for a supplemental appropriation of $500 million for the Texas Education Association even after HB 10 restored the $630 million owed to public education.
Some of the appropriations made in HB 1025 might merit the Legislature’s consideration, but a supplemental appropriation should not become a vehicle for extraneous spending items. These matters should be considered in general appropriations under the normal legislative process, not in an emergency supplemental.
Recommendation: Due to the excessive, nonemergency appropriations made by this bill we oppose HB 1025. The House should pass a clean version of this legislation that appropriates only the funds necessary to pay for unforeseen and unbudgeted natural disaster expenses incurred in the 2012-2013 biennium.
TPPA will support amendments that reduce appropriations, as well as those that shift existing appropriations to more justified expenditures.