Tyler, Texas Paper Says Texas Lege Shifting of Funds Leaves a *Sleazy* aftertasteSomervell County Salon-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas


Tyler, Texas Paper Says Texas Lege Shifting of Funds Leaves a *Sleazy* aftertaste

31 October 2006 at 7:24:17 AM

Enjoyed this one tremendously.

 In the legislative world, however, it is argued that shifting money from such an account is "perfectly legal" which apparently is adequate for lawmakers even if most people might think it is just an outright breach of trust.

Even if legal, the practice likely doesn't do much to enhance the integrity image of legislators. Devious might be the most generous way many would categorize the practice.

One of the more flagrant examples of diversion of dedicated funds is one involving Texas state parks, many of which are having a difficult time just trying to fund basic operations. Many parks currently are reported to be understaffed, operate with reduced hours and have had to postpone maintenance and replacement of outdated or worn equipment.

A 1993 law dedicated revenue from a state sporting goods tax to fund the parks division, and that tax raised about $100 million last year, but only about $15 million went to the parks system. The parks division portion of the revenue has been capped at $32 million, but appropriations have been less than that.

As a result, state parks eliminated 73 positions and operations were cut back in nearly 50 parks around the state, Walt Dabney, the state parks division director for Texas Parks and Wildlife, said in a Tyler visit in September. In the last five years, the parks budget has been flat, while utilities, fuel and garbage costs increased, he noted....

A more realistic assessment is that utilizing these specially created funds to stretch the state budget is a way legislators have found to increase spending without the appearance of corresponding tax hikes. Using funds created because of perceived special needs comes across as an underhand policy.

Taxes and fees earmarked for specific purposes ought to be applied exclusively to those things. Those with other needs should take a number and get in line. If it turns out the funds are not needed as intended, the taxes or fees should be repealed.

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