Gov. Abbott and the Legislative Budget Board Provide an Additional Month of Funding for the Legislative Branch
On Aug. 6, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker Dade Phelan announced an additional month of funding for the legislative branch of government. Gov. Abbott vetoed appropriations for the legislative agencies in his veto proclamation for Senate Bill 1,the state budget for the 2022-23 biennium that begins Sept. 1. The estimated $12.7 million in funding allows legislative agencies to continue to pay their 2,100 staff members and continue operations from Sept. 1 to Sept. 30, the first month of the new two-year budget. State law allows the governor and the Legislative Budget Board (LBB), acting jointly, to reallocate appropriations when the Legislature is not in session. This authority, known as budget execution, allows the governor and the LBB to transfer appropriations between agencies. In this instance, SB 1 appropriations made to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) will be transferred to legislative agencies. The amount of the transfer to each legislative agency is as follows:
|House of Representatives
|Legislative Budget Board
|Commission on Uniform State Laws
|Sunset Advisory Commission
|State Auditor’s Office
|Legislative Reference Library
|Amounts equal to the unexpended balances (UB) in appropriations as of Aug. 31 for each legislative agency
||To be determined
||$12,673,276 & UB
As noted in the above chart, each of these agencies will also receive a transfer from TDCJ appropriations equal to the agency’s unexpended balance in appropriations as of Aug. 31. Legislative agencies are authorized to roll forward any unspent appropriations from one two-year budget to another. As a result, the actual amount available at the end of the 2020-21 budget may have accumulated over several state budget cycles. How many additional days or months of FY 2022-23 funding these unexpended balances provide will vary by legislative agency. The TDCJ funds come from the $1.2 billion correctional unit security budget for fiscal year 2023 and should be replaced before they are needed. This is the same TDCJ budget item tapped to provide $250 million in funds for the border wall.
If not for this budget execution order, funding for the legislative branch of government would have ended on Aug. 31. On Aug. 9, the Texas Supreme Court denied a request to overturn Gov. Abbott’s veto. Meanwhile, the permanent solution to the veto, legislation restoring the 2022-23 appropriations for the legislative branch of government, has been filed during the current special session. The chairs of the two budget-writing committees have filed legislation, HB 1 and SB 10, which would restore funding for the legislative branch. On Wednesday, Aug. 24, the House Appropriations Committee voted out HB 1 and sent the committee report to the Calendars Committee.
For more information about this article, please contact Zelma Smith.