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No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
The Texas Emissions Reduction plan (TERP) is a program that "provides financial incentives to eligible individuals, businesses, or local governments to reduce emissions from polluting vehicles and equipment" as described by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
HB 3745 would set up the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan Fund as a trust fund to be held by the comptroller and administered by the TCEQ as trustee. Money in the fund may be spent without legislative appropriation and may be used only as provided by this chapter of statute to fulfill the purposes of TERP.
Currently, several fees and surcharges are collected and deposited to the credit of the General Revenue-Dedicated Texas Emissions Reduction Plan account. These funding sources would be redirected to fund the new TERP Fund. The purpose of this is to make a more efficient system of spending the money that has accumulated, and continues to accumulate, for the purposes to which they are dedicated.
The fees and surcharges which make up the funding stream are currently set to expire in August of this year. This bill would extend the life of those funding sources until TCEQ publishes a "notice in the Texas Register that, with respect to each active or revoked national ambient air quality standard for ozone referenced in 40 C.F.R. Section 81.344, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has, for each designated area referenced in that section: (1) designated the area as attainment or unclassifiable/attainment; or (2) approved a redesignation substitute making a finding of attainment for the area."
Basically, the fees would continue in perpetuity until the areas in nonattainment achieve attainment.
Texas Action opposes this legislation which is out of alignment with the principles of limited government and free markets. TERP uses taxpayer money extracted from citizens by fees and surcharges to subsidize a number of different things we oppose including the Texas Natural Gas Vehicle Program, the Texas Alternative Fueling Facilities Program, light-duty motor vehicle purchase incentive subsidies, and others.
While this is an existing program already authorized to make expenditures for these purposes, HB 3745 would make it more efficient to spend more money for these purposes with less oversight and accountability by removing the funds from the appropriations process, and with no end in sight to the stream of fee & surcharge generated revenue.
For these reasons, we oppose HB 3745.