Yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee voted out another supplemental appropriations bill, House Bill 1025, that would keep up the 2013 spending spree by appropriating several hundred million dollars on items ranging from salary increases to more state workers to technology upgrades.
Among the specific items listed by the Legislative Budget Board:
From the General Revenue fund:
- $1,400,000 to the Facilities Commission for payment of increased utility costs;
- $1,546,003 to the Veterans Commission for the purpose of creating two state strike force teams to address the backlog of claims in Houston and Waco and to hire additional counselors, including16 additional full-time equivalent employees;
- $500,000 to the Veterans Commission for the purpose of repaying a deficiency grant;
- $200,000 to the University of Houston – Clear Lake for the purpose of current operations;
- $1,678,703 to the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service for the purpose of reimbursing the agency for state-directed deployments for natural disasters;
- $162,500 to Texas A&M AgriLife Research for the purpose of current operations;
- $475,000 to the Judiciary Section, Comptroller’s Department to cover costs of providing legal representation for an inmate in a capital murder trial;
- $39,000,000 to the Department of Criminal Justice for the purpose of providing for correctional managed health care;
- $889,000 to the Parks and Wildlife Department for the purpose of providing for state park operations;
- $35,500 to the Library and Archives Commission for the purpose of providing a salary rate increase for the Director-Librarian;
- $34,500,000 to the Higher Education Coordinating Board for the Texas Research Incentive Program;
- $19,500,000, to the Department of Criminal Justice for the purpose of purchasing a correctional facility located in Jones County;
- $10,000,000 to the Department of Agriculture for the purpose of sourcing healthy food by Texas food banks;
- $7,495,137 to the Judiciary Section, Comptroller’s Department for the purpose of paying salaries for district judges and prosecuting attorneys;
- $517,000 to the Texas Education Agency for costs related to data center services;
- $17,000,000 to the Higher Education Coordinating Board for Graduate Medical Education;
- $30,000,000 to certain institutions of higher education for funding proportionate share for Hazelwood exemption;
From the Foundation School Fund:
- $500,000,000 from GR Account – 193, Foundation School Fund, to the Texas Education Agency for independent school districts and charter schools eligible for funding through the Foundation School Program.
From various General Revenue-Dedicated Accounts:
- $500,000 from GR Dedicated Account – 153, Water Resource Management, to the Commission on Environmental Quality for the purpose of paying for Elephant Butte litigation expenses.
- $16,711,989 from GR Dedicated Account – 5155, Oil and Gas Regulation and Cleanup, to the Railroad Commission for the purpose of information technology modernization, including 11 additional full-time equivalent employees;
- $170,000,000 from GR Dedicated Account – 5111, Trauma Facility and EMS Account, to the Department of State Health Services for the purpose of entering into an interagency contract to transfer money from that department to the Health and Human Services Commission to provide for the non-federal share for the Medicaid disproportionate share hospital program;
- $7,000,000 from GR Dedicated Account – 9, Game, Fish and Water Safety, to the Parks and Wildlife Department for the purpose of the Cedar Bayou Restoration Project in Aransas County.
From the “Rainy Day” Fund:
- $161,065,711 to Texas A&M Forest Service;
- $2,700,000 to Department of Public Safety;
- $4,892,440 to Parks and Wildlife Department;
- $5,398,000 to Trusteed Programs within the Office of the Governor, consisting of $4,398,000 for Bastrop County and $1,000,000 for Cass County.
A handful of these expenses may be justifiable, such as the one-time emergency spending on wildfires from the rainy day fund; but much of what this bill appropriates should cause fiscal conservatives to stop and question the necessity of such spending. Lawmakers last session did well to hold the line on spending, but this session is starting to feel a bit like Christmas come early for government.