Over the long term, one of the most important reforms the Legislature can enact to promote fiscal responsibility is to make the appropriations process more transparent.

Today, the Texas state budget is formatted in such a way that even people with advanced degrees have trouble tracking funds in the budget, let alone the average taxpayer—or legislator. The problem lies in the strategic budgeting format—or bill pattern—currently used in the appropriations bills each session. The format was first used in the 1993 appropriations bill. The concept behind the strategic format was to give legislators a longer-term view of programs and spending beyond the two years appropriations cycle.