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Summary: Among other things, SB 656 would require both municipalities and county commissioners courts to make budget adoption votes “record votes,” that show how each member of a governing body votes. SB 656 also stipulates adopted budgets must contain cover pages stating how much a budget would increase or decrease property tax rates and the revenue expected to be gained through the proposed property tax rate. This cover page would also have to show various other tax rates in the municipality, as well as the total amount of bonds and debt obligations owed by the municipality. Governing bodies would be required to post this information on the body’s website, if it has one, for at least one year, and file it with the body’s municipal clerk or county clerk, whichever applies.
Analysis: SB 656 limits government by promoting transparency in the budgeting processes of counties and municipalities. By making this information readily available to voters, voters will have more information to determine how their representatives are handling tax and budget issues. This information will show whether an official votes to increase or decrease various taxes and voters can then decide whether they wish to reelect representatives accordingly. We support SB 656.