Governor Perry had a great line reported in the state's media outlets:
Â Â Â Â Â Â "Only in Austin and Washington would returning $8 billion to citizens be considered spending."
That's a great point. The state's spending cap was called the "Texas Tax Relief Act," and was supported by an overwhelming vote of the people in a constitutional election. Most Texans probably assumed that if spending was kept under control, their taxes would be as well. It's doubtful any voter thought tax relief could be confused with spending, and it is reasonable to assume that they figured any overage would come back to them and not be used to grow government.
But in Austin a good number of legislators would rather spend the money than return it. We need to hold lawmakers' feet to the fire and demand that our money be returned to us. We don't have a provision for rebates, but lawmakers can use the money to provide tax relief.
With billions of surplus revenues available, legislators should be eager to demonstrate their desire to keep taxpayers happy by lowering taxes. As a group of us pointed out in a letter earlier this week, there are several ways to accomplish that, including aÂ further reduction in property taxes, by increasing the threshold for paying the business tax, or by reducing the rate of the business tax.
Regardless of the method, the result is the same: giving people back their money. As the governor said, that's not spending, that's tax relief. Let's hope the legislature is paying attention, because we taxpayers certainly are.