AND THE CUTS KEEP ON COMING…
Last week, we reported on various cuts in the House version of the proposed state budget (House Bill 1) that would affect cities, including reductions and/or elimination of local parks funding, the cities’ portion of the mixed beverage tax, the major events trust fund, and money to serve the homeless.
Further review of House Bill 1 and the Senate version of the proposed state budget (Senate Bill 1) reveals additional cuts in funding – or increases in city collections for the state – that would negatively impact services provided by cities:
- Pension Fees: Current law states that the governing board of any public retirement system may vote to make an annual contribution, not to exceed 50 cents for each active member and annuitant of the retirement system, to the state Pension Review Board. A rider in the Pension Review Board’s bill pattern, which is contingent upon legislation passing this session, would make that 50-cent fee mandatory.
- Libraries: Both budget bills drastically reduce funding for the Lone Star Library Grant Program, which provides aid to local libraries. Although not entirely eliminated, the program can expect $20 million less (a 67-percent reduction) in the upcoming biennium. The bills also reduce funding for the cost-saving resource sharing program at the State Library and Archives Commission.
- Law Enforcement: Both budget bills would reduce funding for police officer training, which is provided by the Texas Commission on Enforcement Officer Standards and Education. In addition, the bills would also eliminate funding for the Texas Automobile Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority (TABTPA), which awards grants to police stations to assist in preventing and investigating automobile theft. In 2010, TABTPA awarded $14.1 million in grants to local police departments. Those grants were funded by a $1 annual fee on auto insurance policies in the state. The bills would continue that fee, but would divert the revenue into the state’s general fund.