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Proposing a constitutional amendment providing for the creation of
and use of money in the generate recurring oil wealth for Texas
(GROW Texas) fund and allocating certain general revenues to that
fund, the economic stabilization fund, and the state highway fund.
A negative impact of $177,289 through the the 2021 biennium and a positive impact of $203,469,000 through 2023 biennium is expected.
HJR 82 proposes an amendment to the Texas constitution to establish a GROW Texas Fund by redirecting 12% of funds that would otherwise go to the Economic Stabilization Fund. The GROW Texas Fund would be used only for areas in which oil and gas are produced, or which are significantly affected by oil and gas production, and only for public roadways, infrastructure, and public safety concerns.
HJR 82 would lead to a reduction in transparency and allow the government to continue to grow at the expense of taxpayers. Creating new dedicated funds, particularly constitutionally dedicated funds, is inconsistent with the principle of limited government for a variety of reasons. Any time funds are dedicated to a particular purpose, those funds are locked up and not available for other purposes as they may arise. There is also significant controversy regarding whether GR-dedicated funds should be used to certify the budget. The more dedicated funds we have, the less transparent the budget becomes and the more opportunities for shell games that hide the true nature and cost of taxes and spending.
Dedicated funds also represent an abdication of legislative responsibility in lean times because they reduce the obligation of legislators to make tough but necessary budget decisions to prioritize spending when revenues are low due to economic downturns.
Constitutionally dedicated funds such as that proposed under HJR 82 have the additional drawback of not counting against the constitutional spending cap which allows more money to be spent than what otherwise should. This continues the trend of growing the cost of government at the expense of taxpayers while perpetuating the myth that our state has a conservative budget.
We are sympathetic to the argument that oil and gas producing regions of the state have unique infrastructure needs and costs, and that maintenance costs in those areas are higher because transportation infrastructure utilization is higher. However, in the interest of transparency, limiting the growth of the cost of government, and maintaining fidelity to the concept of the state operating within its means without overtaxing its citizens, we urge the legislature to avoid the temptation to create new dedicated funds and instead appropriate funds for necessary infrastructure purposes from general revenue through the normal appropriations process.
We oppose HJR 92.