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Summary: HB 6 is an effort to limit the use of dedicated funds by the Texas Legislature by abolishing certain dedicated funds. Revenue dedicated for particular purposes limits flexibility in appropriating funds based on budgetary need. In previous years, the legislature has consolidated dedicated funds by abolishing them. HB 6 seeks to enact a similar consolidation by abolishing various funds, accounts and dedications created or recreated by the 83rd Legislature.
HB 6 exempts certain funds from consolidation, such as those in existence prior to the 83rd Legislature, exempted by previous consolidations, funds that require separate accounting under Federal law, trust funds and bond funds created by the 83rd legislature, or constitutional funds that would be established during the 83rd legislature.
HB 6 would allow up to $4.8 billion in excess funds in dedicated accounts that were not estimated by the 83rd Legislature’s General Appropriations Act to be used for general governmental purposes and for budget certification that accrue up to Aug. 31, 2015. HB 6 then requires the comptroller to reduce dedicated funds as directed by the legislature. Funds outside the state treasury, trust funds, funds created by the constitution or a court, and funds that require separate accounting under federal law, are exempted from this process.
Analysis: HB 6 is a bill that promotes honesty in Texas’ budgeting process. Texas has relied upon using dedicated funds to certify its budget. These funds are dedicated to certain purposes or agencies under law, but they are not appropriated. Moreover, even though it appears that the funds are heading to a particular place and that they have been spent, the comptroller can still use these funds to certify Texas budget because they have not technically been spent. This is a confusing budgetary gimmick that allows the legislature to appear more fiscally responsible than it actually is.
This bill would limit the amount of dedicated funds created by the 83rd Legislature, thus limiting the ability of Texas to engage in this accounting gimmick. This limits government by making Texas’ budget process more transparent and limiting the ability of politicians to count these dollars in a deceptive way. Support HB 6.