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Legislature's 'budget tricks' targeted under bills

By: From Wire Reports
By: From Wire Reports

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Accounting loopholes the Texas Legislature has long used to balance the state budget would be tightened under two key proposals filed by House Republicans.

Lawmakers vowed this session to pass "truth in budgeting" legislation like the bills filed Monday. The proposals target hundreds of so-called dedicated funds that collect fees for specific programs, such as helping poor families pay utility bills.

Millions of dollars in those funds have historically gone unspent and left on the books as a trick to help lawmakers pass a balanced budget. Legislation filed by Republicans Drew Darby and John Otto would lessen the state's reliance on dedicated accounts.

Lawmakers say it will likely take several sessions to undo the tricks entirely.

The current state budget was partly balanced on nearly $5 billion in dedicated funds.

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