As the Texas House takes up debate on the state’s budget for the next biennium, you will hear a lot about BILLIONS of dollars, percentages of increases, and the like. (Check out Jeramy Kitchen’s excellent preview.)
The House’s starting point is to spend $246.7 billion; the Senate approved a budget several weeks ago spending $250.7 billion. (Neither chamber’s budget includes as spending up to $32 billion the state is getting from the federal government – all of which is coming from your wallet – for the latest round of congressionally allocated COVID relief.)
Here’s a different way to think about the state budget – not including that magic federal funny-money lawmakers will be spending but are not counting.
Under the $250.7 billion “all-funds” budget approved by senators, Texans would pay $360.20 per person per month – that’s every man, woman, and child. For example, that includes $43.25 per person per month for the Texas Department of Transportation.
Remember: that is only for the cost of state government – it does not include cities, counties, hospital districts, community colleges, or special-purpose districts. It also does not include the “local” school district spending. (Add those in, and you can safely assume the direct cost of state and local government in Texas is at least $500 per person per month – not including the hidden cost of regulations and mandates.)
So for the average Texas household (described as 2.85 people by the U.S. Census), the proposed $360.20 per person per month cost of state government translates to $1,026.57 every month starting on September 1. Now, I don’t know any households with 85% of a person in them. Let’s make the number more real.
For a family of four, that’s $1,440.80 per month. What can $1,440.80 per month get you?
That’s more than the monthly payment of a new 2021 Ford F-150 Platinum Edition (approximately $1,200 monthly for five years). Maybe the best truck you can buy; rides great, rich leather, all the bells and whistles. And when the payments are over, you own the truck. Of course, payments to the state never end…
The monthly cost of state government to a family is a lot more than the $1,179 average monthly mortgage payment in the Lone Star State.
And, again, that $1,440.80 per month per family of four doesn’t include local government.
So, is what you are getting from state government really worth that?