Weatherford Democrat

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January 31, 2013

Estes files bill seeking ‘Truth in Budgeting’ amendment

Resolution would constitutionally prohibit practice of diverting fees to balance the budget

AUSTIN – State Sen. Craig Estes on Tuesday filed Senate Joint Resolution 23 to make the diversion of dedicated taxes and fees unconstitutional.

The resolution constitutionally prohibits using dedicated fees and taxes for a non-dedicated purpose or to certify the budget. Gov. Perry on Tuesday called on the Legislature to put an end to this budgetary practice in his State of the State Address.

The practice of diverting fees and taxes has been used every legislative session since 1995. In 2011, the Legislature used $4.949 billion in dedicated fees and taxes to certify the budget.

“I agree wholeheartedly with Governor Perry’s call to end the practice of using dedicated funds and specific fees for purposes for which they are not intended,” said Estes, R-Wichita Falls, who represents Parker County. “The practice of diverting fees is troubling, and our budget surplus affords us the perfect opportunity to end this budgetary practice.”

Estes has also filed Senate Joint Resolution 17 to stop the diversion of the sporting goods sales tax.

School safety

Estes this week conducted a joint hearing of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Rural Affairs and Homeland Security and the Senate Committee on Education to discuss increasing the safety of students and teachers in Texas public schools.

Recent events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and at Lone Star College in Harris County have prompted lawmakers to discuss how to improve school safety. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has directed Estes to recommend ways to prevent heinous acts of violence against children.

“The number one job of government is to protect its people, and it is critical that students, teachers and staff feel safe in Texas schools,” Senator Estes said. “Though it is impossible to legislate against evil, we will work together to identify and address gaps in public school resources that measurably affect the safety and well-being of Texas students and teachers.”

The hearing included testimony from law enforcement, school administrators and school safety experts.

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