In an effort to cut administrative costs, state Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, filed a group of bills last week that would eliminate four state agencies.
King estimates that by cutting the Texas Historical Commission, the Texas Facilities Commission, the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners and the Texas Funeral Commission and moving their functions to other agencies the state could save nearly $10 million.
“We are in a budget cycle where we need to eliminate things that are not core functions of government,” King said.
But King said his proposed cuts would only be temporary. The programs and their funding would be restored in the next budget cycle if the economy improves.
“These are good services and good programs, but really the bottom line is if it comes down to laying off teachers or suspending the Historic Commission, I prefer to suspend the Historic Commission,” King said.
King's HB 2879 would transfer many of the Historical Commission's functions to to the Parks & Wildlife Commission, the General Land Office and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. The Texas Facilities Commission responsibilities — managing facilities used by state agencies — would be split by the comptroller's office, the General Land Office and the State Preservation Board in HB 2664. Duties of the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners and the Texas Funeral Commission would fall to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation in HB 2665.
Supporters of the Historical Commission said important programs could get lost in the shuffle of transferring the agency's functions to other state offices.
Jim Ray, volunteer president of Preservation Texas, a group that advocates preserving historic resources said transferring the functions of the Historical Commission to another office could also slow down the agency's work, including the federally mandated historic preservation review process.
“These programs work well together. There’s no gain to be made by splitting them up,” Ray said.