SUBCOMMITTEE FINDS BILLIONS IN NON-TAX FUNDS
|Lubbock Senator Robert Duncan led the panel that looked for more non-tax revenue to fund the Senate version of the budget.|
(AUSTIN) — A Senate Subcommittee charged with finding non-tax revenue delivered its report to the Finance Committee on Tuesday. Subcommittee Chairman Senator Robert Duncan of Lubbock said the 20 recommended items amounted to nearly $4.8 billion in additional revenue lawmakers can use to balance the state budget. "This is a pretty major bill, as far as a way to help fund the decisions we've made in markup," he said. Some recommendations would generate a few million, others hundreds of millions and even billions of dollars.
The subcommittee report uses a variety of strategies to generate additional funds. Some items recommend deferral of payments from this fiscal year to next. The largest single piece of revenue comes from one such diversion, moving state payments to the public education system from August to September, pushing it into the 2011-2012 fiscal year. Duncan said that schools wouldn't lose out in the deal, as they would receive two payments in September. Another cash flow strategy recommended by the panel would move up tax collection dates for some assessments, including sales and franchise taxes. Early tax collection would bring in more than a billion dollars.
The subcommittee recommended liquidating certain funds and state properties. Thirty-five million dollars comes from the sale of state properties, including unused land in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and Parks and Wildlife, as well as unused facilities in the Department of Aging and Disability Services. Duncan said that no Texans would face a loss of services through the sale of the recommended state properties. Other similar recommendations included liquidating unclaimed securities for $38 million and reducing the period before unclaimed property is turned over to the state for $78 million.
More money comes from tweaking various state-assessed fees. The subcommittee recommended repealing the economic development tax refund and the permanent resident exemption for hotel taxes, for a combined $20 million.
Finance Committee Chair Senator Steve Ogden of Bryan told members that they would take a vote on the subcommittee recommendations on Wednesday. He added that he intends to hold a committee vote on SB 1, the Senate's version of the state budget on Thursday or Friday, and present the full budget to the Senate for a vote sometime next week.
The Senate will reconvene Wednesday, April 20 at 11 a.m.