Okay, so the voters spoke in the November elections. From what I gather from the media and other sources their voices said something about limiting government and no new taxes. So do you think they heard them in Austin? From what is going on it looks to me like they are speaking a different language in Austin.
Take, for instance, the 911 fund. In 1987 HB 911 imposed a fifty cent fee on every phone line in the state to pay for the statewide 911 emergency system. This was an act of genius and has done exactly what it was intended to do; develop and maintain a statewide 911 system. It has done so well in fact that there is a surplus in the fund. A surplus that would be more than enough to continue to maintain and update the 911 system as new technology evolves.
Unfortunately the legislators in Austin are looking to use this “dedicated” fee to help balance the budget. Not only do they intend to sweep the current balance of the fund into general revenue to balance the budget they also intend to keep collecting the fifty cent fee under the ruse of 911 funding.
According to some reports they intend “redefine” the direction of the fund and use it in the future as a source for general revenue. Maybe it is not a new tax, but certainly a new use for a dedicated fee.
To make things a bit more complicated some of the larger counties receive their 911 funding directly while other counties, like Milam, get their money through the Councils of Government. To add even more complexity some counties receive the funding while in other counties, like Milam, cities receive the funding. Bottom line is that if 911 is to continue in Milam County Rockdale and Cameron will have to provide the funding.
There is another option though. Simply do not fund the 911 program with local tax dollars. HB 911 provided a vehicle for the funding of this program and that vehicle is still running. We just need to make sure HB 911 continues down the road it was meant for…..funding 911.
If the state decides to sweep the 911 funds and redirect the future revenue that will mean what already is paid for will have to be paid for again with your tax dollars. Can you spell unfunded mandate, double dipping, misappropriation of funds? Hopefully our city and county leaders will have the backbone to just say no to funding 911 with local tax dollars.