The time has come to decide the future of Texas and it boils down to a very simple question: will we continue the “Texas miracle” or will we submit to the powerful combined forces of public employees and a biased media and turn Texas into just another bankrupt state?
Today, the Texas House will take up HB 4 and HB 275. HB 4 contains cost cutting measures that will reduce the amount of money that legislators must take from the Rainy Day fund in order to pay our bills for the current budget, which ends August 31st. HB 275 is the legislation that actually takes money from the Rainy Day fund and applies it to the budget. Andrew Kerr over at Empower Texans correctly notes that in its present form, HB 275 would draw $3.12 BILLION from the Rainy Day fund but adds that there are amendments that will be heard today to reduce that number a bit more, possibly moving the total draw below $3 BILLION, which would be great. Both of these bills need to be passed today.
Tomorrow will be the real debate because that is when HB 1, the appropriations for the next biennium, will be debated. The public employees and media will do anything and everything they can to try and bully your state representative into spending more money than the comptroller says that we have available. As I mentioned yesterday, the Republicans will hold firm but they need to hear from you anyway. They need to know that you will stand with them against these powerful forces. I have contacted my rep, Rep. John Davis (R-129) and urge you to contact yours. Urge them to hold fast to the comptroller’s estimated revenue of roughly $77 BILLION and to spend not a penny more. No “blue sky” optimistic projections, no “deferred expenses”, no increased fees, and no further use of the Rainy Day fund.
Why do we need to do this? To continue the “Texas miracle”. I know that you have probably read so many media reports critical of Texas that you might have some doubt about that miracle. Doubt not. It is a fact. Yes, the country had a recession and so did Texas. But through this recession, Texas was a shining star because of the tight fiscal management of Texas Republicans. I know that some of you don’t believe that, from the left and the right. The left thinks that we are “behind” other states and the right thinks we spent too much and didn’t cut soon enough. The plain facts are that Texas never had to issue IOU’s and that we have enough money in the bank to cover our current budget deficit with plenty left over. The cuts required by HB 1 tomorrow will eliminate any talk of a “structural deficit” – those cuts should have been made in previous sessions but bygones are bygones. The time is now.
Texas’ economy has diversified far beyond petroleum, with booming high-tech centers, major corporate headquarters and thriving small businesses. It has attracted hundreds of thousands of Americans and immigrants, high-skill as well as low-skill. Its wide-open spaces made for low housing costs, which protected it against the housing bubble and bust that has slowed growth in Phoenix and Las Vegas.
The states, said Justice Louis Brandeis, are laboratories of reform. The 2010 census tells us whose experiment worked best. It’s the state with the same name as the county that’s the center of the nation’s population: Texas.
Look at a few facts from State Comptroller Susan Combs (h/t Kimmon Johnson, formerly of Lonestartimes.com):
- The Texas unemployment rate has been at or below the national rate for 49 consecutive months.
- In February 2011, the Texas foreclosure rate was one in every 841 mortgages.
- This was substantially better than Nevada’s one in 119, Arizona’s one in 178, California’s one in 239, and Utah’s one in 273.
- U.S. consumer confidence increased by 9 percent from January 2011 to February 2011, rising to 70.4. Consumer Confidence now stands 52 percent higher than one year ago.
- The Texas region’s consumer confidence index increased from 74.4 in January 2011 to 84.9 in February 2011, and is now up 14 percent from its level one year ago.
And lest you think that cuts cannot be done without “hurting” the children, or the economy, or any other scary beast out there that has been created by the left and their cohorts in the media, the fine folks over at the Texas Public Policy Foundation have put together a six part series on what to cut and where to cut and why it is a good thing:
- Economic Freedom, Texas Style
- Lessons from 2003
- Don’t Chase Federal Funds
- Article III: Education
- Article II: Health and Human Services
- Articles of General Government: I, VI, VII, VIII, and X
Let’s pay special attention to that last installment because it contains the fundamental questions that everyone should ask before spending taxpayer money in the first place:
- Is a program or agency consistent with the mission of Texas’ state government?
- Are the benefits from a program or agency unambiguous and universal?
- Do the benefits of a program or agency clearly outweigh the total costs to taxpayers and consumers?
- Is the program or agency fulfilling a need only government can effectively fill?
- Does an existing program or agency show evidence of past success?
- Does a program or agency protect private property and liberty or interfere with free enterprise?
- How difficult is it to measure the performance of a program or agency?
- How well does an agency’s performance stack up compared to others?
- Is there evidence that continued funding will significantly improve or maintain outcomes?
- Are the general benefits of a program evenly distributed across the state?
- Does a program or agency exist only for the sake of gaining federal funds?
Excellent questions all. If all of our elected officials at any level would force themselves to answer those questions about every piece of spending proposed, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in as a country. Fortunately, Texas elected officials have done better than the rest of the country in this regard.
Don’t stop now. Call your rep (click here to find her or him) and tell them that you will support them against the attacks that are sure to come when they stand firm on the budget tomorrow.
You can follow the debate on all of these bill via Twitter. Use the hashtag #txbudget. Texas Public Policy Foundation will have two people tweeting live: Joshua Trevino (@jstrevino) and David Guenthner (@DavidGuenthner). I’m sure that the Empower Texans team will also participate live, as well as many other fiscal conservatives.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation has a podcast up featuring Rep. Warren Chisum discussing this debate.