84(R) - 2015
Relating to extending the period over which the balance of the system benefit fund is to be eliminated.
A fiscal note dated April 21, 2015 anticipates a two-year net impact to General Revenue Related Funds from CSHB 1101 of $0 through the biennium ending August 31, 2017.
To the extent that costs associated with the bill would be charged to the balances of the General Revenue-Dedicated System Benefit Account 5100, there would be a negative certification effect on General Revenue Related Funds.
House Bill 1101 would delay the elimination of the system benefit fund to September 1, 2017, as opposed to September 1, 2016 currently.
It would also expand the use of the remaining balance from the system benefit fund for the low-income discount program through the state fiscal year beginning September 1, 2016.
Vote Recommendation Notes
No amendments have been introduced on the House floor and no changes have been made to the bill in Senate committee. We continue to remain neutral.
The second chamber sponsors is Senator John Whitmire.
First chamber recommendation:
The System Benefit Fund
is a dedicated account in the General Revenue Fund that used to be funded by a "nonbypassable" fee set by the Public Utility Commission. Money from the fund was mainly funding the low-income discount program.
Recent legislation though eliminated the fee and the plans were made to exhaust the balance of the fund according to the purpose of the fund. The fund, under current legislation, is scheduled to end on September 1, 2016.
According to the statement of purpose for House Bill 1101 though, the Public Utility Commission of Texas has reported there is still money available in the fund to provide the discount. House Bill 1101 seeks to extend the "expiration date" of the fund in order to spend the remaining balance for the purpose for which it was collected.
Although the balance of the fund could be returned to taxpayers through a possible tax cut, House Bill 1101's solution is to have it spent for its dedicated purpose, which is a better solution than making it available for extra spending unrelated to its collection.
Since House Bill 1101 is not making any new appropriations or trying to prevent the complete elimination of the fund, we will remain neutral on this bill.