If a title like that doesn't get your heart beating...well, okay, I'd understand. The fine folks at the CPPP have been very busy pumping out the position papers and analyses lately. This one, on Senate Bills 13 and 16, is a little dense, but this is what they're doing in Austin these days, so if you want to know what's going on, start reading. The executive summary:
Senate Bills 13 and 16 are scheduled for a public hearing by the Senate Finance Committee on Monday, April 24, at 9:30 a.m. Even though the governor's call for the third special session is still limited to "school district property tax relief; modifying the franchise tax, motor vehicle sales and use tax, and tobacco product taxes, and an appropriation to the Texas Education Agency," SB 13, 16, and other bills filed by legislators make it clear that other important matters will have to be resolved before the end of the 2006-07 budget cycle.
The supplemental funding and other items in SB 13 and 16 as introduced call for $2.5 billion (a 4% increase) in General Revenue to cover already-purchased school textbooks, fund social services restorations and shortfalls, undo budget-balancing maneuvers used in 2003 and 2005, and address Hurricane Katrina and Rita costs. While the cost of supplemental items may seem large, adding them to the state budget would still have Texas spending less General Revenue per resident than it did in 2002, before devastating budget cuts were made. This Policy Page provides more information about the supplemental needs, all of which should be given a higher priority than the unaffordably large, unsustainable property tax reductions that some state officials are proposing in the special session.