TAC State Financial Analyst Paul Emerson has compiled a report of General Revenue-Dedicated accounts important to county government. Over the past two decades, the Legislature’s accounting practice of using many of these funds to balance the state budget has affected many county programs.
Discussions in recent sessions have centered around how the state can begin to reduce its dependence on funds that were intended for a particular purpose, but end up held from being appropriated so they can be used for certification purposes.
House Speaker Joe Straus and others have made it clear they would like to end the process of diverting dedicated accounts and start using the money for its intended purpose.
"There’s a lot of support for ending the practice, but winding it down is likely going to take years," said Rep. Drew Darby (R-San Angelo) at TAC’s Counties at the Capitol Day on Feb. 2.
The document compiled by Emerson reports on a variety of county programs which are dedicated and deemed for a particular purpose. Monies collected on behalf of these programs are placed into specific General Revenue-dedicated accounts (GR-dedicated). Before the state budget can be approved by the Governor, the Comptroller’s Office must certify the budget by guaranteeing funds are available to meet the state’s fiscal obligations over a two year period.
Part of the certification process includes sweeping all remaining balances into the general revenue fund, including any GR-dedicated accounts with available balances. The Comptroller certified $4.2 billion available for the 2014-15 budget from 214 GR-dedicated accounts.
The report summarizes various GR-dedicated accounts that monetarily impact counties. Note, plus and minus signs within the columns represent whether adding or subtracting is needed to derive the available balances for each fund. This document includes other relevant information about each particular account, and it also shows how much money has been appropriated out of these funds over the most recent budget cycle (2014-15).
As an updated report, it also shows the projected beginning and ending balances on these accounts for fiscal year 2015, which ends on Aug. 31, 2015. In several instances the Legislature appropriated more additional funds than were available. Hopefully, this document will serve as a starting point when tracking important revenue streams that are collected and allocated to the various county programs.
The information retained in this document is based on a report that was released by the Comptroller’s Office in Oct. 2014, including the 2016-17 Biennial Revenue Estimate, January 2015. More information on the Comptroller’s report is available on www.TexasTransparency.org, the Comptroller’s website aimed at demystifying state spending.
For additional information, please contact Paul Emerson, Texas Association of Counties, Legislative Department, County Information Program at (800) 456-5974.