Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and an Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, and think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, a son-in-law, and a dog. Michael is the author of two books, including "Reflections on Life and Liberty."

Legislature Bombs In Fiscal Rating

Just how did the legislative session go? We’ll be releasing a full legislative score card soon, but overall, this legislative session was a bust. The cumulative score of all members of the Texas House and Texas Senate, on fiscal issues, was an abysmal 52%. Meaning? Half the time the legislature voted contrary to the best interests of Texas’ taxpayers.
The Republicans in the legislature scored a barely-passing cumulative rank of 70%. The Democrats? A not-unexpected 30% — but then, they make no bones about wanting to grow the size of government.

Tearing Down Walls, Advancing Liberty

It was 20 years ago today, on June 12, 1987, that Ronald Reagan stood at the Brandenburg Gate, in West Berlin, and uttered perhaps the most important words of the 20th Century.

He said, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! … Yes, across Europe, this wall will fall. For it cannot withstand faith; it cannot withstand truth. The wall cannot withstand freedom.

Defending the Spendoholics?

On the website, in e-mails, and recent speeches, TFR hasn’t been bashful about calling out the Tax-and-Spenders infesting the Republican Party’s legislative delegation.

By their actions (stopping additional tax relief, preventing tax reform, sponsoring tax hikes, etc.), these Republican spendoholics are pushing grassroots conservatives and libertarians – the Republican base – into apathy. Their actions are driving the core constituency of the movement away from the polls.

Frustrated Taxpayers

Sitting in the back of the Laredo auditorium on Wednesday night, I was struck by the level of frustration. These were hard-working folks I was listening to, most arrived in pick-ups and older cars; none belonged to a country club.  The event was a free training seminar on how to protest property tax appraisals; I had been asked by the organizer to come and talk about the results of the legislative session.

Robin Armstrong

I had the pleasure of sharing a podium last night with Robin Armstrong, vice chairman of the Texas Republican Party. We were speaking at an event in Horseshoe Bay (Llano County).

A practicing physcian (and a fellow graduate of Texas A&M), Robin has risen quickly in GOP's inside politics. His comments were refreshingly strong, focusing on the need for our elected officials to return to the core principles of the conservative movement that excite the grassroots.

Pitt$ Fiscal Hypocrisy

State Rep. Jim Pitts should be ashamed of his bald-faced hypocrisy. Jim Pitts is saying tonight that he is voting against the budget on the grounds that it represents an irresponsible jump in state spending, and criticizes it for being laden with pork.

This begs a response. The proposed budget increases the size of government about 9 percent, while the budget Jim Pitts shepherded through the process, when he chaired House Appropriations, increased state spending 18.7 percent.

That porky smell emanating from the Capitol arises from many quarters, but Mr. Pitts' office would surely have to be one the smelliest. He's never lifted a finger to reduce spending or cut the size of government. He should be ashamed.

Who in the Fred Hill is being represented?

For Texas taxpayers, the record of State Rep. Fred Hill (R-Richardson) adds up to higher taxes. The Dallas Morning News is reporting in today’s edition that residents in Mr. Hill’s home county of Dallas had a “sharp increase” in property tax appraisals – some 20 percent on average. As a result, property owners there are paying an additional $18.4 million in taxes.

Rep. Hill has been the single greatest obstacle to property tax relief and appraisal reform in the Texas House.

Senate Passes Spending Transparency Legislation

Late last night the Texas Senate unanimously passed House Bill 3430, which gives Texas' taxpayers the ability to monitor spending and ensure tax dollars are being well-spent. This legislation marks a great milestone for fiscal accountability in Texas and across the country.

State Rep. Mark Strama and his colleagues in the House, and State Sen. Glenn Hegar and the other members of the Senate, along with both Speaker Tom Craddick and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, are to be congratulated for opening the state's expenditures, grants and contracts to healthy scrutiny and important sunlight. Having this transparency in spending is good for all Texans.

Thousands of Texans directed letters and phone calls to their legislators this Session, asking for this legislation to be enacted. Those efforts have paid off in moving the legislation unanimously through both chambers; now we wait for a conference committee to finalize the legislation before it is adopted by the governor.

Senate (Finally) Passes TIF Tax Repeal

The Senate this evening finally passed House Bill 735, legislation that represents one of the largest tax cuts in Texas history. The House version had the tax cut going into effect immediately, but the Senate opted to keep taking the tax for one more year. This is a tax, by the way, which was supposed to have gone away years ago; it had completed its statutory purpose but lawmakers decided they liked getting the money and refused to follow through on the promise to abolish it.

No Tax Reform, But An Industry Blooms

Remember the campaign promises for property tax relief? Seen your latest property tax bill? The rates are going down (a little, because of the 2006 tax swap), but the bills are going up (a lot, thanks to appraisal creep). 
Six days remain in the legislative session, and despite record-breaking budget surpluses lawmakers haven’t delivered on the desperately needed additional property tax relief.