The Legislative Budget Board recently published their recommendations to close the budget shortfall. While some suggestions will please conservatives, many others will leave them shaking their heads.
For those unfamiliar, the LBB is a permanent joint committee of the legislature that recommends appropriations for all agencies of state government and provides fiscal analyses for proposed legislation.
The full list of proposals presented by the LBB can be found here, but for the sake of brevity, let’s go over some of the highlights:
- Requiring electronic banking for state business: Today, every bank or credit union has a routing number used to transfer money electronically. By doing a direct deposit for all state employees, the state would no longer have to pay for paper checks.
- Reduce Medicaid patients’ reliance on emergency rooms: The LBB estimates $184.2 million a year could be saved by redirecting patients with non-emergency conditions out of the ER and into clinics.
- Make it easier to understand state and local government borrowing Increases transparency to allow more people to understand the state’s constitutional debt limit and how close the state is to it’s borrowing limit.
- Implement a fuel inefficiency surcharge: The LBB proposes a $100 surcharge on vehicles with poor gas mileage would bring in $115.3 million in the next biennium. Owners of these vehicles already buy more gas, which puts more money into the gas tax fund than “efficient” car owners. Now the LBB wants to charge an additional gas tax at the dealership.
- Raise prices for storing documents for local governments: This does nothing to limit spending. It only passes on the cost to local governments to pay for instead.
- Ban wireless communication devices while driving: Again, this is only a “revenue generator”, not a spending reducer. There are already laws on the books against reckless driving. Those laws should be enforced instead of creating new ones.
- Create voluntary pill-splitting program: Asking state employees to buy prescription pills with twice the recommended dosage and split them at home would save the state $710,000, says the LBB.
- Charge state employees for parking: Here’s a novel idea: How about cutting their salary?
- Solicit park donations: The LBB suggests mimicking states like Washington that asks for a voluntary $5 donation with vehicle registration. I wonder how much would be saved by just closing down the parks that people don’t go to instead?
This isn’t the worst proposal in the world, considering it doesn’t propose touching the Rainy Day Fund or raising taxes (although raising “fees” are a lot like raising taxes), but legislators would be wise to follow the proposals of the TCCRI’s budget proposal instead, given how it more closely reflects the will of the voters who put them in office.
Dustin Matocha is the Social Media Coordinator of Empower Texans / Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.
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