Greg Abbott Wants to Raise Your Taxes

Conservatives almost universally agree consumption taxes are superior to property taxes, but as things stand, taxpayers probably won’t see property tax relief.

Swanson Passes Legal Protections for Gun Owners

Gun rights advocates are cheering the victory, especially in light of the behind-the-scenes deal brokering by leadership to quietly kill pro-gun bills and prevent them from coming to the floor.

Remember the Taxpayer!

In responding to the official revenue estimate issued by Comptroller Susan Combs, Gov. Perry said, “This surplus should reinforce our commitment to the principles and policies that helped create it. State leaders must continue to be fiscally disciplined, we must continue to set clear but limited priorities, and we must remember that every expenditure affects not only those who receive a government service, but also the taxpayers who pay for it.”

That big pile of money..

That big pile of money belongs to Texas’ taxpayers. That legislators aren’t falling all over themselves leading into the session to return it completely to the taxpayers is more than a little disappointing. By spending the surplus, they will be taxing us again, and again. Hear the song (mp3)… 

It’s Wait and See at the LBB – At Least Fix the Cap Before Busting It, If You Must

The Legislative Budget Board meeting scheduled for Thursday, January 4 has been postponed to Thursday, January 11, apparently to give legislative leaders more time to chat with members about the setting of the spending limitation pursuant to the Constitution.  TFR has askelbb2d the LBB to use growth in gross state product (GSP) instead of growth in personal incomes when setting this cap in a letter that was included in our previous post on this subject. 

Tax cuts ain’t spending!

State Senator Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) got it right in today's Dallas Morning News when he said, "I don't think the spending cap was designed to prevent tax cuts." What spending cap? The so-loose-as-to-be-non-existent cap added to the state constitution back in 1978 as the "Texas Tax Relief Act." Unfortunately additional tax relief during the recent special session was blocked by claims that having the state provide such relief would constitute spending.

Carole’s Campaign Cadre

The Beaumont Enterprise is reporting that outgoing-Comptroller Carole Keeten-Strayhorn has in her waning days in office hired on campaign staff and added employees. Cost to taxpayers? $40,000, for two months of work. For work that apparently wasn't needed while she was attempting to convince taxpayers and voters to move her into the governor's mansion. You can read the full story here. 

Merry Christmas: Hand over your money

Economist Stuart Greenfield opined in the subscription-based Quorum Report this week that while Texans are incredibly more generous individuals than others in the country (that part is right), our public policies keep the "state" from being as generous as the people (absolutely silliness). (Read his piece here; you may have to be a subscriber.) The state cannot, by definition, be generous or charitable; it can spend money, but it cannot be charitable. It is an anthropomorphism to suggest otherwise, for only people can be charitable.

Gov. Perry Readies a Christmas Present for College Students and an Accountability Lesson for Higher Ed

How do Texas cograduatesllege students know their tuition money and the share of taxes their parents paid that go towards higher education are actually used for expenditures that enhance the education they receive?  Unfortunately, they don't because the state's higher education budget is anything but transparent.   Now, columnist Clay Robison reports that Governor Rick Perry is courageously seeking to change that.

Helping People

Does big government help people? The assumption made all too often is that the bigger the government, the more expansive the program, the more helpful it is. Indeed, we see that in the metrics used to justify continuing big government programs: how much money we spend.

At a recent event hosted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, TFR chairman Tim Dunn made an incredibly persuasive speech in which he described the ways conventional wisdom falls completely flat. In reality, the best way to help people, is to reduce the drag government exerts on our economy.