Speaker Straus Calls for Budget Reforms

September 05, 2014

Legislative News

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In an effort to push for greater budget transparency and maintain fiscal responsibility, Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) has instructed the House Appropriations Committee, Chairman Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie) and the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) to hold interim hearings which will undertake a strategic analysis of selected state agencies and programs prior to the 84th legislative session.  According to Straus, the ultimate goal is to put in place a more strategic and efficient way of allocating taxpayer dollars – by implementing a strategic fiscal review.
As part of this analysis, members of the House Appropriations Committee are to ask a series of fundamental questions when addressing these agencies. They are:

  • What are the statutory and constitutional requirements placed on the agency?
  • Do these requirements reflect the current and future needs of the state?
  • Are these institutions using dedicated and constitutional funds appropriately?
  • Do the services provided by the agency appropriately serve broader health, safety, and economic needs of the state?
  • Can agencies provide essential services with fewer employees and taxpayer dollars?

The following agencies and programs Straus selected are:

  • Trusteed Program within the Office of the Governor;
  • Department of Information Resources;
  • General Revenue-funded Programs at the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services;
  • Higher Education Coordinating Board;
  • University System Offices;
  • Available University Fund;
  • State Law Library;
  • Juvenile Justice Department;
  • Department of Public Safety;
  • Texas Emissions Reduction Plan at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality;
  • Department of Transportation; and
  • Public Utility Commission.

At the request of the newly appointed chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), the Texas Education Agency (TEA) was added to the strategic fiscal review. The focus is limited on administrative functions, grants and programs, not including the Foundation School Program.
The LBB has the task of developing tools and compiling information that will best be suited for this new challenge. 
For more information, contact Paul Emerson, TAC state financial analyst, at (800) 456-5974.