An amendment to the tome that is House Bill 1811 would wipe out the current format for the state budget that was conceived by Ric Williamson back in 1987. The amendment was proposed by Erwin Cain, R-Como. Williamson argued that the old budget format, which was little more than a list of line items, just threw money at state agencies with little direction as to what to do with it. His format required agencies to prioritize their functions, which appeared in the budget as a series of strategies. “Strategy A,” for example, might direct, say, the Railroad Commission, to inspect wells. It would set targets for the number of wells that should be inspected in the first and second years of each biennium and would be accompanied by the appropriation. In this way, agencies would determine what they were supposed to do and how much they had to spend. Cain’s amendment did away with the Williamson format. I don’t know will replace it, but I doubt that it will be an improvement. John Otto told me that Cain’s bill carried a large fiscal note for “thousands of dollars” of new software that would be necessary. I suspect that Williamson’s legacy is safe for awhile longer
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