STATE BUDGET TAKES MORE FROM LOCAL LIBRARIES AND FIREFIGHTERS
The House and Senate both released their proposed state budgets last week. The proposals will serve as a starting point for negotiations throughout the session. Both budgets recommend cutting aid to local libraries by $5.6 million, or a 58-percent reduction from 2012-2013 amounts. Also problematic are provisions in both budget bills that continue to require one state agency – the Texas Commission on Fire Protection – to raise revenue from cities and firefighters beyond what is necessary to run the agency. The bills require the agency to transfer a required excess profit to the state’s general fund. For a more detailed description of how this measure was born in the previous state budget, please refer to a previous Legislative Update article.
Although detrimental, far worse than any state budget cut would be legislation that would require cities to maintain current service levels in the state programs that are being cut (i.e., unfunded mandates), or that would limit the ability of cities to fund such vital services as police, fire, streets, and trash collection (i.e., artificial revenue restrictions). The bulk of the League’s efforts will be spent to prevent these mandates and/or revenue restrictions. Of course, that doesn’t mean that city officials shouldn’t speak up and work to restore potential losses in state revenue.