Earlier this week Texans for Fiscal Responsibility released Texas’ most important conservative scorecard of legislator performance for the latest session. Michael Quinn Sullivan titled his summary of the report “Lack of Responsibility” and I couldn’t agree more. I say the scorecard demonstrates that fiscal responsibility took a back seat to pleasing internal political interests this session.
Among the biggest problems Texas Republicans face is having elected officials who believe themselves to be small-government conservatives but who, in practice, think that philosophy simply means opposing tax increases. You’ll hear legislators brag that they didn’t raise taxes and you are supposed to accept that as the be-all and end-all of conservatism.
The problem is that our governments were designed to grow on auto-pilot by big-government Democrats over the past century. Take this past legislative session, legislators may not have raised taxes but they didn’t have to. Growth in the Texas economy produced so much new money that they were able to appropriate twenty-four percent more real dollars than they did just two years ago. And even if you ignore money appropriated for the past budget, they still grew state government from six to eight percent.
An anti-incumbent primary season is just around the corner and voters need to earnestly remind those seeking the conservative label that not raising taxes is just a part of the expected job. We want an end to state budgeting that forces growth, replacing such with zero-based budgeting. We want a strong state spending cap of inflation plus population growth. And, we want legislators to down-size state government as opposed to re-inflating it each time state coffers are full.