Skepticism over claims of abuse through “unfunded mandates” is warranted

Pratt on TexasRecently I used “ambit” as Pratt on Texas Word of the Day. Ambit means the range within which something, especially a rule or law, is effective or has power. 

Complaining of “unfunded mandates” is a habit almost as frequent as brushing teeth for many Texas local government officials, especially county commissioners and their giant lobbyist army at the Texas Association of Counties.

And while there are examples of mandates coming from the Texas Legislature for county government that must be funded with local tax dollars, most of those mandates are not close to being as egregious as local officials would have you to believe.

Most so-called unfunded mandates to county government are directly within the ambit of the original purposes of county government and its relationship to the overall state government.

The problem is that most of what they list with the biggest price tags are for doing things for which county government was created or organized to do…

In a story titled “Bastrop County joins fight against unfunded mandates” the commissioners think themselves bright when they list all the big ticket items they have to pay for that they call unfunded mandates. The problem is that most of what they list with the biggest price tags are for doing things for which county government was created or organized to do like running jails or handling indigent healthcare.

Texas local governments, whether cities, counties, schools or special purpose districts, are not entities in and of themselves, they are creations of the state and the scope of local government responsibility is defined by state government from the beginning and on-going.

Most of what legislators push down to county government are things that must be done at the local level or is thought to be better done locally.

Isn’t that what the other common mantra, “local control,” is all about; that performing required functions locally is more efficient than a giant statewide bureaucracy?

What do you think?...

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