Fiscal responsibility ratings for Texas state lawmakers have been released for the 88th Legislative Session, revealing the overall average of fiscal responsibility among elected lawmakers is 42 points out of 100—a failing grade.

Texans for Fiscal Responsibility (TFR) published a Fiscal Responsibility Index for the 88th Legislative Session, which “uses votes taken by lawmakers on core budget and free enterprise-related legislation in an attempt to demonstrate individual lawmakers’ governing philosophies.”

During this legislative session, state legislators approved the largest spending increase in Texas history, failed to ease property taxes, and dismissed concerns from Texas taxpayers.

Though taxpayers seemed to suffer under several lawmakers this session, not all lawmakers received failing grades for fiscal responsibility. The highest-ranked “Taxpayer Champion”—State Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R–Arlington)—was just two points shy of a perfect grade.

Texas House

In the Texas House of Representatives, TFR designated four Taxpayer Champions.

All of the Taxpayer Champions voted in favor of House Bill 1, Amendment 37, which would have used $8 million of the property tax relief fund to increase teacher salaries, and House Resolution 4, Amendment 9, which would have created the “biggest property tax cut in Texas history.”

Tinderholt scored a 98 (A+), the highest grade of all state lawmakers this legislative session. He has received nothing lower than an A- since his first session in 2015.

Second on the scoreboard for the House was State Rep. Brian Harrison (R–Midlothian), with a 96 (A+). Harrison lost points when he voted in favor of House Bill 4456, which would clarify the process for determining a school district’s no-new-revenue tax rate. This measure would effectively result in a “higher no-new-revenue rate and ultimately higher tax revenues due to the inclusion of both state and local funding as a part of the school finance formula.”

State Rep. Steve Toth (R–Conroe) placed third, with a grade of 94 (A). Toth did lose points by supporting House Joint Resolution 45, a property tax exemption at the expense of other taxpayers.

The final state representative Taxpayer Champion was State Rep. Matt Schaefer (R–Tyler), who received a 90 (A-). He lost points by voting in favor of House Bill 11, which would allow certain allotments providing for compensation for certain public school teachers under the foundation school program. According to TFR, it has a “negative fiscal impact of nearly $504 million through the biennium” and an “increasing taxpayer burden every year thereafter.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, several Republicans did not score well.

There was a three-way tie for the lowest-ranking Republican “Fiscal Foe.” State Reps. Todd Hunter (R–Corpus Christi), Morgan Meyer (R–Dallas), and Angie Chen Button (R–Garland) all received a failing grade of 36 points.

The House received an average rating of 40 out of 100 points for fiscal responsibility.

Texas Senate

In the Texas Senate, three lawmakers were labeled Taxpayer Champions by TFR.

State Sens. Bob Hall (R–Edgewood) and Bryan Hughes (R–Mineola) tied for first place, each earning a grade of 91 out of 100 (A).

Although he generally voted in favor of fiscal responsibility, Hall did vote for Senate Bill 612 to “allow municipalities that impose a local sales and use tax that is used for road and sidewalk maintenance to do so for longer periods without having to go back to the voters.”

Hughes also occasionally voted against fiscal responsibility. He voted in favor of Senate Bill 19, a “Rainy Day Fund” for various higher education institutions across the state.

In second place is State Sen. Mayes Middleton (R–Galveston), with a 90 (A). Middleton authored and voted in favor of Senate Bill 1705, which would give the government power to interfere with private political party processes.

As with the House, several state senators received low grades; however, even the Senate’s lowest grades were better than the House’s average grades.

The lowest-ranking Republican State Sen. was Robert Nichols (R–Jacksonville), who received a 54 out of 100.

The Senate received a slightly higher average grade for fiscal responsibility, earning 48 out of 100 points.


“Texas lawmakers had an opportunity to provide historic property tax relief to millions of Texans this session,” said TFR President Tim Hardin. “They instead passed the largest spending increase and corporate welfare programs in Texas history, gave billions in raises to thousands of bureaucrats, and gave themselves pension raises.”

The Texas State Legislature is currently in a special session to attempt to relieve the property tax burden.

June 28 is the last day of this special legislative session, leaving the House and Senate little time to lower property taxes for Texans.

Soli Rice

A journalist for Texas Scorecard, Soli is a new Texan with a passion for politics. She's excited to hone her writing skills and help spread truth to Texans.