Texas: Legislative Budgeting in a Post-Oil-Boom Economy
GLEN HAHN COPE
Budgeting in the state of Texas is a legislative process. Although the governor and the governor's budget staff do prepare an executive budget, the legislature controls the budget process and, in most cases, the fiscal decisions contained therein. Modern governors have exerted more or less influence over the state's budget depending more on their personal political influence than on the formal powers assigned to them by the Texas constitution and statutes. This chapter describes the budget process in Texas and discusses the state's current fiscal condition during a time of transition from an economy based on agriculture and natural resources, especially oil, to a more diversified, technology-based economy.
The Texas state governmental system originated in the Republic of Texas, an independent nation from 1836 to 1845, when it entered the United States as the twenty-eighth state. Its governmental structure, however, was shaped by Reconstruction and by the response of Texas politicians to the policies imposed by Union governors after the Civil War. The constitution now in effect was adopted in 1876. Although it has been amended over two hundred times, several attempts to ratify a new, more modern constitution have been rejected. As a result, Texas is one of the very few states that have not "reformed" their governmental structures in the twentieth century. The legislature's control of the budget process, and the relative lack of gubernatorial influence and power in that process, ensue from the unwillingness of the 1876 constitution writers to give the major power to any one individual, elected or appointed, in the government.
Although the governor of Texas was designated as the chief budget officer in 1931, an independent executive agency, the Board of Control, prepared budgets, managed government property, and performed state purchasing functions until 1949. In 1949 the Legislative Budget Board was created by statute to prepare budget estimates for the legislature. The Board of Control retained its other administrative functions, but budget preparation became solely a legislative function. In 1951 the governor was given the responsibility of preparing an executive budget, but control of the process remained firmly in the legislature's hands. Only