Bethany Fleming - April 14, 2009 - 4:55 PM
As “the intern” at UWT since January of this year, I have had the privilege of attending quite a few committee hearings and briefings in which I had absolutely no idea what was going on. Don’t worry, I’m a competent person, and my three years at UT have fully versed me in note-taking, so what I usually come out of the meetings with is an accurate, better understanding of the subject matter. But today, I faced a new challenge altogether…
This morning, the Legislative Budget Board made a presentation, briefing House members on the details of the proposed budget. And, quite honestly, I ended up being confounded by the entire proceeding. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t expect a budget proceeding to be simple, but as I stated before, I’m usually able to at least keep up!
Besides my initial shock at the meeting's low attendance (things must have been considerably busy at the Capitol today), I was struck by the added complexity of figuring the Federal Stimulus dollars into Texas’ proposed expenditures. Nearly every question posed by the legislators dealt with why, how, and how much federal money was being funneled into what program.
The main point I came away from the briefing with was that the usage of federal funds in lieu of general revenue funds will free up these general revenue funds to take care of projected over-expenditures. Good news right? Well, maybe. The question still lingering with me is what will happen when we are using general revenue funds to take care of new “over-expenditures” and we use up all of the federal funds? Won’t we have to choose between cutting funds to other, older programs, and cutting funding to new programs?
They announced at the end of the meeting that LBB representatives will be available to members for questions on Thursday and Friday, and I sincerely hope legislators and their staff take advantage of this resource. No doubt, budget matters are tedious, boring and complex; but because of this, they require ample, if not more than usual, attention to comprehend (believe me, I’ve tried!).