Jolt

Once Again, Dedicated Funds Transfered to General Fund

By Afternoon Jolt April 18, 2011

Today's Loser: Dedicated Funds

The senate passed their 2011-2013 operating budget 34-13, this afternoon.

During the floor debate, Sen. Tim Sheldon (D-35, Potlach), one of the 13 'No' votes, raised a parliamentary point of order. He wanted to know how many votes were needed to pass it—a simple majority or a two-thirds. Sheldon's point? He was taking issue with a fund transfer from the liquor revolving account to the general fund, claiming the fund transfer constituted raising new revenue and would require the liquor control board to raise taxes or fees if the account did not have a sufficient amount of funds in 2012. Those actions, he argued, require a two-thirds majority vote under Initiative 1053.

Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen was not able to immediately declare a ruling, and moved behind the curtain for a good fifteen minutes before making a ruling.

[pullquote]Raiding funds is a typical budget tactic. In the "early action" budget passed in January, legislatorstransfered funds from the hazardous substances clean-up fund.[/pullquote]

"The president believes merely moving money that's already been raised between accounts without actually raising new money [...] is not in and of itself an action which raises revenue," Owen argued. On Sheldon's second point, Owen explained that there were a number of ways the state's Liquor Control Board could make up a shortfall besides raising taxes, stating "this not the only possible outcome." As such, Sheldon's point "was not well taken."

So much for dedicated funds.

Raiding funds is a typical budget tactic. In the "early action" budget passed in January, legislators transfered funds from the hazardous substances clean-up fund, and attempted to take some money from the liquor revolving account—which consists of liquor sales proceeds that is then divvied up to cities across the state.

The senate's budget includes $455 million in fund transfers and $4.8 billion in cuts to deal with a $5 billion plus shortfall.
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