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Last week the House and Senate budget writers each produced their drafts for the new state budget. As you know, passing a balanced budget is the only thing the Texas Legislature is constitutionally required to do each session.

By that measure, the Senate is poised to pass a budget that lives within the taxpayers’ means. The House, on the other hand, produced a budget draft that exceeds available revenues, underfunds border security, and is wholly devoid of tax relief.

We shouldn’t be surprised.

The Senate, led by taxpayer champion and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, had its budget prepared by State Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) – who has long championed government restraint. The House, led by a coalition of Democrats and establishment Republicans, saw its version laid out by Speaker Joe Straus of San Antonio.

Straus and his cronies want to raid the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund, promote debt and possibly pave the way for future tax hikes. And given the Straus team’s push to give driver’s permits and other benefits to illegal aliens, it shouldn’t be surprising his plan underfunds Texas’ border security efforts.

In unveiling the Senate plan, Patrick said it was important to “live within our means.” It’s how Texans live their lives, and they expect their government to do likewise. Patrick, Nelson and their colleagues have been consistently demanding real relief for taxpayers as well as substantive property tax reforms.

So far Gov. Greg Abbott has been silent on the budget proposals. Whether he will take the fiscally responsible path of the Senate, or throw his support to the budget-busting House plan, remains to be seen.

In less than 127 days, we’ll know if Republicans in the Texas Capitol want to bust the budget, or protect taxpayers. The House is starting with the former, the Senate the later.

If you want your wallet protected and voice heard, you’d better start speaking. Loudly.

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