2020 Unfunded Mandates Survey to Begin Soon

February 24, 2020

Legislative News

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Work on the 2020 Unfunded Mandates (UFM) Survey is about to begin. In coordination with the Texas Association of County Auditors, the County Treasurers' Association of Texas, the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas and the Conference of Urban Counties, TAC is reviewing the 2018 UFM survey in preparation for the start of the 2020 survey.

Part of this review includes determining which questions from the 2018 survey are needed or can be expanded upon. We are also determining the best timing for this year’s survey in preparation of the 87th Texas Legislative Session.

Survey History

In 2016, we asked counties how much they spend on selected unfunded mandates. Information from the 2016 survey was extremely useful during the 85th Legislative Session, and played a part in the push in that session for a constitutional amendment to limit unfunded mandates led by Rep. DeWayne Burns (R-Cleburne).

While the legislation failed to reach Governor Abbott's desk, it did move through the legislative process more than any prior attempt, garnering overwhelming, bipartisan support. When it came to the floor, 127 House members voted in favor of the proposed amendment.

At the time, even Gov. Abbott acknowledged the fight of local governments with his 2018 property tax reform proposal which included a call for unfunded mandate protection.

In 2018, we repeated the study with some changes to its questionnaire. Information from the 2018 study was used extensively during the 86th Legislative Session. Nevertheless, that session produced Senate Bill 2 by Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) which lowered the rollback rate (voter-approval tax rate) from 8% to 3.5% for counties. Therefore, with the greater restriction on counties’ ability to raise additional revenues, it is more pressing than ever to make sure legislators know the extent to which counties are impacted by the bills they propose and pass.

With your help, the 2020 UFM survey will enable counties to reach that goal. Please stay tuned for further updates. If you have any comments or questions about the survey, please contact Tim Brown at (800) 456-5974.

We will let you know when to expect the 2020 UFM survey form.