Two years ago I was frustrated that Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst didn’t support using some of the surplus on immediate tax relief. Dewhurst said he was worried that the national economy would continue to decline and it would affect the Lone Star State. As it turns out, Dewhurst’s concerns were well-founded. He was right.

To be fair, Dewhurst then (and now) stressed his desire for more property tax relief. He has said numerous times that our burdensome property tax system hurts our competitive edge and that free-market principles must guide legislative action. And I’ll continue to contend that it is always prudent to cut taxes. No one in the free-market movement (the Lt. Governor included, I know) likes to see government with big surpluses – that money should be in the taxpayers’ pockets – because it inevitably gets spent growing government.

But Mr. Dewhurst’s pragmatic concern in ’05 for a healthier budget reserve can take some credit for the fact that Texas is one of only six states not facing a budget shortfall this year. Had he not pushed to keep the money in reserve, unspent and undedicated, Texas could be facing a serious budget problem, including tax-hikes.

A graphic from the left-leaning Center for Budget Policy Priorities demonstrates the economic straits in which the other states find themselves.

You read that right: 44 states are facing budget shortfalls. Only six are projected to be in the black, and Texas is the leader.

And we’re rightly worried, from our position of comparative strength, about the gale winds of national economic gloom knocking us over. (We’d be in a considerably worse position if we’d followed the tax-and-tax recommendations of Texas’ left-leaning politicians who want to re-crate Texas in the income-tax levying, welfare-growing image of bankrupt California.)

Thanks to the carry-forward balance from the last legislative session, lawmakers this Session have the opportunity – if they will take it – to rationally trim spending and implement sensible restraints (such as those being advocated by Gov. Rick Perry) on government growth as we prepare for the inevitable storm.

Fiscal responsibility, not taxes and government growth, will always serve us well.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, and a dog. Check out his podcast, Reflections on Life and Liberty.

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