Look No Smoke Or Mirrors In Texas' Budget

Your story "Them's pretty fancy accounting tricks, pardner" (Top of the News, Apr. 19) displays little understanding of the principles of our Texas performance review.

True, our two reports have recommended accounting measures to help the state through immediate budget crises--what you call "sleights of hand." Texas taxpayers will hasten to assure you that the resulting savings are very real.

Because your reporter misunderstands our basic goals, he totally misquotes Texas A&M's Jared Hazelton, who never said we had cut only $700 million from the last budget. The fact is, Hazelton has called upon the legislature to "give serious consideration to the other 442 out of a total of 460 recommendations made by the comptroller. Collectively, they produce about $1 billion in available revenue for fiscal 1993-1994, and these are not onetime savings."

Not only that, but you dug up a purported Texas state auditor's report to back up your assertions. The "report" was actually a draft so riddled with inaccuracies and so ridiculed by the Texas audit committee that it was thoroughly discredited and never released.

This year, our state will have no tax increase at all because of Texas performance-review savings and cuts. All in all, I'd say them's pretty fancy accounting facts, pardner.

John Sharp

Comptroller of Public Accounts

Austin, Tex.

Editor's note: The $700 million figure attributed to Hazelton referred to his analysis of the spending cuts proposed by Sharp in 1991. Hazelton did not analyze the budget as approved by the legislature.

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