Memos Provide a Closer Look at Interesting Budget Provisions

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) has released three memos on the state budget that provide insight on issues of interest to all the fiscal hawks out there: changes to taxes and fees, changes to the use of certain funds, and policy items included in the budget.

State Tax and Fee Modifications
This memo identifies state tax and fee changes included in the 2013-15 state budget. “In summary, the changes included in Act 20 would decrease net taxes by -$703,749,500 (-$349,358,900 in 2013-14 and -$354,390,600 in 2014-15) and would increase net fees by $7,860,000 ($3,242,700 in 2013-14 and $4,617,300 in 2014-15). In addition, it is estimated that measures included in Act 20 to enhance the collection of current taxes would generate an additional $92,044,000 ($31,872,000 in 2013-14 and $60,172,000 in 2014-15).”

All of the changes are summarized in a table that provides a brief description of each state tax and fee modification. The table consists of three parts: (1) tax increases and decreases; (2) fee increases and decreases; and (3) enhanced collection measures.

Use of Certain Funds
This memo identifies funds in the 2013-15 state budget that would be used for purposes other than what the funds are traditionally used for. Eleven funds are listed in the memo, with the largest different from usual use coming from the transfer of over $133 million from GPR to the Transportation Fund.

Non-Fiscal Policy Items
This memo identifies all non-fiscal policy items in the 2013-15 state budget. These are items that have no or very little fiscal impact, and are perhaps better known by the more colloquial moniker, “pork.”

LFB admits that the list is subject, but the bureau attempts to be as objective as possible by applying the following criteria when making the list:
“(1) generally, the item has no state fiscal effect; (2) if there is a state fiscal effect associated with an item, the policy implications of the provision outweigh any potential fiscal effect; (3) the item has been, or is, the subject of separate, non-budget legislation; (4) the item is one that typically would be reviewed by a standing committee of the Legislature; and (5) the provision could be accomplished without statutory directive, such as reports, studies, and audits. Items that typically are not included on the list are those that: (1) affect state program eligibility; (2) would generally be referred to the Joint Committee on Finance if introduced as separate legislation; and (3) address a reorganization or transfer of state government operations or functions.”

According to the memo, the final budget bill included 87 non-fiscal items. The memo also includes lists of policy items that were in the bill at one point in time but that did not make the final cut.