Year after year, the State of Texas has produced budget surpluses – more money than government needs. Most egregiously, the state had a $14.3 billion surplus in 2007; a chunk of it was spent on bigger government, and chunk was put in an unsecured “tax relief” account that – trust them – the legislature will give back to us some day as property tax relief (no guarantees, though). Now comes word that Texas could have another $15 billion surplus in 2009. Governor Perry is making a politically unusual (if economically correct) call: give the money back to the people.

Whatever else you might think of the governor on other policy areas, he has been remarkably consistent – and strictly right-thinking – on budget matters and tax issues. “The governor believes that with a surplus of this size, we need to find a way to give tax relief to hardworking Texans,” the governor’s spokesman, Robert Black, told the Fort Worth Star Telegram. “The question is whether it should be in the form of additional property tax reduction, lowering the business tax, cutting the sales tax or actual rebates like the federal government is doing.” (Strictly speaking, the federal government isn’t giving rebates, since the federal government isn’t operating with a surplus.)

Predictably, left-wingers are crying foul. Democratic State Rep. Marc Veasey told the Star Telegram he is “all for giving the taxpayers a break when we can afford to” – but, frankly, he wants to spend lots and lots and lots more.

Veasey and left-wing radicals (of both parties) simply don’t like the idea of parting themselves from your money. Once they have it, they want to spend it on their friends or programs that give them more power.

Liberals say that we need to grow government when times are tough because people need extra services. But in a time of plenty (like now), when the state economy is growing, they also demand more services so they can pay for more goodies.

For a lover of government, every occasion is an occasion to grow government. They will commit taxpayers to ever more burdensome government without a moment of hesitation, but they dither, dally and debate over even the mildest suggestion that taxpayers should get a break.

Rick Perry is trying to break that cycle and should be supported. If the state’s economy is to continue to grow and produce wealth for all Texans, government spending has to be restrained. And the easiest way to slow the growth of government is to take away the surplus funds and give those dollars back to the people.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

A graduate of Texas A&M, former newspaper reporter, one-time Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president, and an Eagle Scout, Michael Quinn Sullivan and his wife have three children. He is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. Check out his podcast, “Reflections on Life and Liberty.”

RELATED POSTS