Christopher Paxton

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Dead Money

The Texas Capitol can often be the scene of strange phenomena. Enter funds consolidation—this government accounting gimmick actually allows liberal-leaning legislators to spend more of your money by first hoarding it. First some background. The state collects billions of dollars in funds through specific taxes and fees that flow into special accounts that are subsets […]

By |January 9, 2015
Eternal Life

A belief that our state government wastes money on pet projects is a truism of modern Texas politics. Despite a displeased frustration with well-funded political favoritism, taxpayers may not know the major reason why elected officials continually defend it: organized interests. Fewer arenas offer a better case study for this than the Texas Legislature. The […]

By |January 8, 2015
Cutting Around the Edges

How effective would your budget be if you controlled only  17% of your discretionary spending? Under the current legislative appropriations process, Texas lawmakers do just that. It might seem puzzling to legislators or citizens who have the impression that budgets start at zero, but in practice, the Texas budget for discretionary funds starts at 83% spent. […]

By |January 7, 2015
Structured Against Transparency

A lack of program-level transparency in the biennial state budget prevents legislators and citizens from knowing exactly what programs an agency supports in each appropriations cycle. Often, the only folks who know this information have an incentive to keep it from taxpayers. Any inquisitive layman who peeks at the state appropriations document is immediately overwhelmed […]

By |January 6, 2015
Rolling Stone

Thanks to big-spending legislators’ creative accounting and over-eagerness to spend your money, the 83rd legislature increased appropriations 26% over the previous legislature. Even though this represents a major increase, it would shock many taxpayers to know that growing budgets are inevitable—partly resulting from a budget process that elected legislators barely touch. We mentioned a brief […]

By |January 5, 2015
Experts and Yes Men: The Making of the Budget

In little over a week, the 84th session of the Texas Legislature will begin. Chief among the legislature’s responsibilities is the passage of a biennial state budget—even though a vast majority of legislators have no role in its formulation. Under the current budget process, an unelected, professional bureaucracy performs the task of agency performance evaluation, […]

By |January 4, 2015
When Moderates Win, Democrats Win

Democrats are lamenting their setbacks in a recent election that witnessed a clear mandate for conservative leadership. One of their biggest complaints: the loss of moderate Republicans. A major example outside of Texas sheds light on how Democrats rely on liberal-leaning Republicans to thwart conservative reforms in the deep red Lone Star State. A recent […]

By |December 5, 2014