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Cutting unnecessary and duplicative government is a common-sense conservative position, but we seldom see our legislators take action to put these principles in place. The Texas Budget Compact supports cutting out waste – because a state that governs less, governs best.

The supermajority of Republicans in the Texas Legislature missed many opportunities to cut wasteful and obsolete government last session. But that shouldn’t come as any surprise, given the amount of gimmicks they used to balance the budget.

The Legislature largely ignored many of the recommendations set forth at the beginning of the 82nd Session by the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute. Their report entitled A Blueprint for a Balanced Budget detailed nearly $20 billion in excess spending that was available for cutting, including:

  • A 10% pay cut for all state employees
  • Ending longevity pay for all state employees
  • Ending appropriations to corporate welfare programs (such as the Texas Enterprise Fund or Emerging Technology Fund)
  • Improved public education productivity,
  • Cutting central administration for Higher Education systems
  • Cutting 30% of general revenue to Natural Resources, Business and Economic Development, and Regulatory agencies

(A summary of their report can seen at the end of this post.)

A big piece of wasteful government the Legislature could cut out is the Texas Lottery Commission. Originally created in the 1990’s, the Lottery Commission was sold by Gov. Ann Richards as bill of goods to increase funding for public education without raising taxes.

Like most government programs, it over-promised and under-delivered. It neither reduced reliance on property taxes, nor provided any significant funding for public education. According to the Austin American Statesman in 2010, the Lottery Commission could “barely cover three days” worth of public school operations!

When the Legislature convenes in January 2013, the Lottery Commission will be on the Sunset Commission’s chopping block. If history is any indication though, the Sunset Commission will only be used as a tool to grow the size and scope of the Lottery Commission, not to eliminate it.

At this year’s state GOP convention, Republican delegates explicitly called for the repeal of the state lottery, largely because they understand the lottery is a failure, and efforts to expand gambling (which the Texas GOP also oppose in their platform) will suffer the same fate.

Given that members of Speaker Straus’ leadership team are working for the expansion of gambling, and the likelihood they will try to use the Lottery Commission as a backdoor towards expanded gambling, it’s imperative taxpayers push legislators to support the Texas Budget Compact. (No surprise that Mr. Straus refuses to support it.)

It we’re ever to get close to the recommendations of the TCCRI, the Legislature must act on the principles laid out in the Texas Budget Compact.

Go to TXBudgetCompact.com and show your support today. We’ll send a letter to your legislators in Austin for each plank of the compact you support on your behalf when they reconvene in January.

In the meantime, be sure to contact your legislator/candidate and find out where they stand.