February 15, 2011
One of the biggest problems with the Texas budget is how it uses fees. Generally, this is money that Texans pay for a specific purpose – such as state parks, air quality improvements, or cheaper electricity bills.
Too often, the legislature refuses to spend money as was promised, instead diverting it in a way that lets budget writers spend more on other things. And even as they congratulate each other for not raising taxes, those in control of the budget often slip fee increases into bills and pass them along to Texans. Even the bare-bones draft budget now under consideration by the legislature includes more than $100 million in fee increases.
My bill would require the state to be much more open and honest about the fees it’s imposing on Texans. It would require the Comptroller, after each legislative session, to publish a report specifying what fees are supposed to pay for, whether (and by how much) the fee was increased during the session, and how much of that fee revenue would be diverted to balance the budget.
It also would require the state budget to declare, separately and clearly, how much it would raise fees.