FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 02/16/2017
Burns Proposes Constitutional Amendment To End Unfunded Mandates
AUSTIN, TX – State Representative DeWayne Burns (Cleburne) filed House Joint Resolution 73 today, which proposes an amendment to the Texas Constitution restricting the legislature’s ability to impose mandates on counties and municipalities without also providing adequate funding to comply with those mandates. The measure would require any state directive to local governments be accompanied by a full appropriation from the legislature or force the state to reimburse counties or cities for the costs incurred.
“I’m a small government conservative,” Rep. Burns said. “At its heart that means I believe every decision that can be made at the local level should be made at the local level, and that it is up to the folks in each individual community to decide for themselves what is worthy of their time, talents and tax dollars. But I’m not naïve. I understand that there are instances when the state must step in and dictate policy. I do believe, however, that when those instances occur, they should be properly funded. Anything less is intellectually dishonest and irresponsible.”
Unfunded mandates are laws passed by the state or federal government, or regulations issued by agencies, that direct counties or cities to undertake specified governmental actions without providing the funding to execute them. Conservative estimates reveal hundreds of million dollars in unfunded mandates that local governmental entities are obligated to carry out by statute. This includes criminal indigent defense, funding appraisal districts, incarceration of state inmates in county jails, the collection of state motor vehicle fees and taxes, training jail staff, jury pay, adult and juvenile probation and even conducting elections.
Rep. Burns concluded, “Unfunded mandates are effectively tax increases handed down by the legislature on local families and property owners, and implemented by proxy. They may be unintentional when a bill is originally passed, but often they end up forcing counties or cities to raise taxes to finance the policy. This practice must be stopped. It is unfair, unjust and it runs counter to everything we stand for as conservative Republicans.”
HJR 73 is awaiting referral to committee for public hearing and, if affirmed by the committee, will proceed to the House and Senate to be voted on. If passed, the proposition will be placed on the ballot in November for voter approval. Please call and encourage your state representative and senator to support this imperative legislation.