In the final days of the veto period, Gov. Greg Abbott signed the biennial budget passed by the Texas House and Senate during the legislative session in its entirety, growing state spending beyond Texans’ ability to pay for it.
The 2020-2021 Texas budget comes in at $250 billion. Excluding funds for Harvey recovery and property tax relief, the budget still comes in at $243.7 billion, an increase in spending of 12.5 percent above the 2018-2019 appropriations. After passing the legislature last month, the Conservative Texas Budget Coalition officially declaring that lawmakers had failed to pass a conservative budget, which would have been limited to $234.1 billion based on an 8 percent increase in population growth plus inflation.
It’s a budget that fiscal conservatives have been furious with.
“Taxpayers sent legislators to Austin with a mandate to cut spending and limit the growth of government,” said Cary Cheshire, vice president of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility. “Unfortunately, the people they elected broke their promises and doubled down on Democrat efforts to grow government.”
It’s not just fiscally focused conservatives that have taken issue with the governor’s approval of the budget.
Though Abbott has previously exercised line-item veto power to eliminate certain spending programs from the budget before offering his signature, this year, the budget was signed in its entirety with not a single program or rider removed.
Gun rights organizations like Gun Owners of America and the National Association of Gun Rights had urged Abbott to use the power to remove a $1 million budget rider for a safe gun storage campaign. Even the establishment apologists at the National Rifle Association and Texas State Rifle Association opposed the rider due to the possibility that it could be hijacked by anti-gun rhetoric, though, in traditional fashion, they stopped short of any public campaign to urge a veto.
“It’s not the government’s business to use our tax dollars to promote a gun control message that ignores guns as a tool to keep us safe,” Rachel Malone, the Texas director of Gun Owners of America, said last month.
With the Republican-controlled legislature passing a budget that increases state spending, Republican lawmakers now have the increasingly difficult task of simultaneously promoting their fiscally irresponsible growth of government to taxpayers and drawing a contrast between themselves and Democrats in 2020, after a “kumbaya” legislative session in which those contrasts were more muddied than ever.