Page 1


The one great rule of composition is to speak the truth. The TexP . “Co C server We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. ekly Newspaper Vol. 50 7′ AUARY 24, 1959 10c per copy No. 42 LEGISLATIVE BUDGET BOARD ‘HOLDS LINE’ AUSTIN Lopping off $100 million in funds requested by state agencies, the Legislative Budget Board, dominated by conservatives, r e c o m mends a $285 million general revenue budget that “holds the line” in general revenue expenditures over the next biennium. Summing up the 200 page document, which provides $45 million less than Gov. Daniel’s proposals, the board’s budget director Vernon Magee told the Observer “we tried to bring in a budget that could not be reduced” \(related The budget sharply slashed proposed state programs for higher education, public health, mental hospitals, the water program, and the prison system and zeroed in on selected agencies such as the Industrial Accident Board, Council on Migrant Labor, Youth Council, and Employees Retire:nent System. The Highway Department, its revenue sources safely out of the general revenue scramble, received 99.8 per cent of its $785 million request. The department’s money comes from special state highway funds. Board member Frates Seeligson, House conservative from San An’ tonio, explained the board’s budget approach to the Observer in this fashion: “We realized the state faced a severe financial problem. We knew we’d have to have a new tax bill because there were some absolutely mandatory expenses that would prevent us from living within our present revenue. We tried to hold the line, but there are some increasing expenditures that can’t be avoided more children in the schools each year, and more hospital beds needed. Then there are buildings that if not repaired immediately would fall down. In such cases, we granted some requests, but we determined to be as strict as possible.” This approach to state services resulted in reductions in funds requested by virtually every agency. Some rode out the economy wave better than others. Faring comparatively wall were the Department of Public Safety, which received $24.6 million of a requested $25.9 million; National Guard Armory Board, $727,000 out of $757,000; the Attorney General’s Office, $1.3 million out of $1.4 million; and the Judiciary, $9.1 million out of $10.1 million. In contrast, the Gatesville and Gainesville correctional schools, orphan homes, and Negro blind and deaf schools were sliced from $14 million to $9 million. These Youth Council economies were achieved by budgetary cutbacks in general operating expenses, total elimination of the Governor’s proposed juvenile parole and supervision system, and reductions in building programs aimed at combatting overcrowded conditions. The $9 million building program in the prison system was cut to $4.2 million. Through additional reductions in requests for salary boosts and an increased guard force, the overall Department of Correction budget was reduced from $26.4 to $19.9. The scythe fell heavily on higher education. The request of the University of Texas for general revenue funds was pared from $26.8 million to $19.5 million and A&M from $13.7 million to $8.4 million. The sixteen other state-supported colleges and universities also received broad cutbacks from a requested $67.4 million to $49 million. Public junior colleges were hit even harder, the board recommending funds below the 1958-59 level; the request of $11.3 million was reduced to $8.3 million, well below the $9.5 million allocated in the present biennium. The budget board made no recommendations for new funds for the public schools in connection with the proposed Hale-Aikin reforms. State Education Commissioner J. W. Edgar told the Observer his agency does not, as a policy, request teacher pay raises, but confines i t s recommendations to funds needed for the central state office in Austin. Edgar’s education agency 1960-61 request for $6.1 million was cut to $4.4 million. Federal grants for vocational rehabilitation are to be foregone because of the failure of the state to appropriate matching funds. The Department of Health also underwent severe pruning. The department’s 1958 employee force of 636, reduced in 1959 to 601, was recommended for a further reduction in 1960-61 to 583. The $10.8 million general revenue request was cut back to 5.9 million, a figure below the 1958-59 level. To meet a 13 per cent increase in applications for hospitalization for crippled children, the board recommended $600,000 in additional funds which it said “would cover only the cost of per diem hospitalization, without any increase for appliances, added transportation cost, or professional fees and services.” Two water agencies seeking to expand their programs for state wide water development and conservation saw their requests for additional funds denied and were granted less money than they received for 1958-59. The State Board of Water Engineers, parent coordinating agency for overall federal-state-local water development, requested $3.4 million and was cut by the budget board to $1.8 million. The reductions fell on projected programs for topographic mapping, drouth .studies, and cooperative programs in the fields of surface water investigations, quality of water, and duty measurement. Eliminated entirely were programs relating to evaporation control, water quality demineralization research, and flood forecasting and storm studies. Presenting its view of the projected water engineers program, the budget board said, “The tain only sufficient personnel to direct the collection of data, cornpile and evaluate it, and continue the routine functions provided for by law.” The other state water agency seeking funds, the Soil Conservation Board, requested $1.5 million and was recommended for $254,000. L.G. THE LEGISLATIVE BUDGET BOARD: Left to right, State Senators Wardlow Lane of Center, Dorsey Hardeman of San Angelo, Lt. Gov. Ben Ramsey of San Augustine, Senators William Fly of Victoria and Crawford Martin of Hillsboro ; and Representatives James M. Cotten of Weatherford, Frates Seeligson of San Antonio, Speaker Waggoner Carr of Lubbock, and Representatives W. S. Heatley of Paducah and Max Smith of San Marcos. A Philosophy of Minimums INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENTS A RARE AGREEMENT AUSTIN The Observer has interviewed Vernon Magee, director of the Legislative Budget Board which this week recommended a $100 million reduction in funds requested by state agencies. Excerpts: Magee: The basic difficulty in this state is that we do not have a broad-based taxone that falls on more people rather than one such as we have now that is hooked to the accident of natural resources. Reporter: Would an income tax be the type of broad based tax you suggest? Magee: I don’t know. I’m not a student of taxation. But I think we ought to do something to restore some incentive. I know a number of people, just people you meet in daily life, who have retired at 40 because if they made any more they’d be working for the federal government. Not that I think the lower classes ought to hear more of the income tax burden. As a matter of fact, exemptions on the lower classes arc not high enough. Reporter: What was the board’s basic approach in working out its budget recommendations? Magee: Well, we tried to bring in a budget that couldn’t be reduced. Because of the revenue problem, we thought it best to produce a document that would be a point of beginning. That leaves to the \(appropriations and decisions on where to go. Reporter: The budget notes a critical need for case workers and also mentions the “discouraging element” of so many old people in the mental hospitals. I was curious to know why, in the light of these findings, the board didn’t recommend salary increases to get more case workers and psychiatrists in the mental hospitals? Magee: Well it was an accident of timing. The Texas Employment Commission was late in getting its job classification analysis completed and we didn’t have any facts to go on in establishing pay increases …. Without job classifications, how do you know whether a caseworker H in Michigan is doing the same type of work as a caseworker II in Tennessee? I’m not going to pull a figure right out of the air. But in all candor, I don’t believe the board would have recommended raises even if the job classification survey had been completed in time. Reporter: Why is that? Magee: You know, the revenue situation. * Reporter: What was the board’s thinking on. cutting new hospital construction and the new build ings in the prison system and in the juvenile training schools? Magee: When you’re short of money, c a p i t a 1 expenditures should be cut. Reporter: Why did the board recommend no funds for the Council on Migrant Labor? Magee: My recollectionof the board’s thinking was, here is a study and in view of our revenue problem, is this the time to make this study. Reporter: It was my understanding the state was trying to go full speed ahead on the water program. Why were there such drastic cuts in the appropriation for the State Board of Water Engineers? Tom Keel, member of Magee’s staff for water matters: “Their request reflected a 75 per cent increase. The Budget board did not choose to enrich above the present level. Reporter: Why? Keel: Because of our revenue problem. I’m still waiting to see a water program. Magee: They have some bright ideas over there but I’m still waiting to see a water program. Reporter: I notice the board made serious cuts in the Youth Council juvenile parole system and building program which the Governor is backing so strongly. AUSTIN One of the more unusual recommendations of the legislative budget board involved the Industrial Accident Board. Through some complicated bookkeeping, the legislative committee slashed the board’s general revenue request more than 84 per cent, leaving the agency with little over half its requested funds. The board, which administers vrorkmen’s compensation injury claims, had both Texas Manufac Magee: We were a little bit disturbed by city judges saying rehabilitation is not adequate at the schools. We thought we’d wait and see how the adult parole system proves itself before starting a juvenile parole system. Reporter: The decision not to build the home for dependent and neglected Negro children? Magee: The board didn’t feel it was needed, particularly in view of our revenue problem. Its been my experience that colored folks find a way to take care of their neglected children morn than white folks do. Magee: \(final vinced that if government took every cent you earned. there will still be worthy projects that will go unfinanced. L.G. turers’ Assn. and AFL-CIO support in its 1960-61 plans to establish six regional offices to place the agency nearer the state’s principal industrial areas. To finance the program, the agency intended to rely on a boost in workmen’s compensation c o 11 e c tions that would increase the biennial operating funds by $500,000. However. the budget board denied funds for the regional office program and took the money thus saved out of the accident board’s general revenue budget, reducing the latter from $424,000 to $69,000. TMA spokesman Ed Burris told the Observer, “We were vitally interested in the accident board expanding its operational facilities to better its service to both employers and employees. Now. the budget board’s action in denying us the money we raised for this purpose put us in the position of having taxed ourselves for something we aren’t going to get.” Fred Schmidt, AFL-CIO secretary, said the budget board’s action was a “clear distortion of legislative intent. These district offices offer an injured man his Only opportunity to lay his injury claims before a board representative without involving a long trip to Austin. It represents the first step toward making the accident board the effective agency it was originally designed to be.”