Promoters of big government are pitching dark budget days ahead by claiming the state faces a $27 billion budget shortfall. Their math is built on faulty premises, and being repeated by the liberal press. Never mind their numbers don’t mesh with reality.

The leftist Center for Public Policy Priorities is the source of the $27 billion shortfall claim. Their basis for the number is that they think the state budget should grow, grow fast, and be bloated at every turn. For them, a $99 billion price-tag for state government in 2012-2012 is a floor; it’s where the bidding for spending your money begins.

The esteemed Talmadge Helfin at the Texas Public Policy Foundation looks more rationally at the situation. He notes that not only should government operations be reviewed, but that we cannot presume every dollar spent in the past needs to be spent in that way again. And, yes, we should ask questions about the fundemental assumptions for how our dollars spent in the first place.

Earlier today the Austin American Statesman’s Politifact franchise took aim at Heflin, giving full credence to the grow-government crowd — accepting the need for budget bloat on its face. So much for being unbiased.

After all, CPPP wildly claims the 2003 budget had a $16 billion shortfall. How’s that again? The simple facts, as reported for sevn years, are that in 2003 the state budget suffered a $10 billion shortfall. In re-writing history, CPPP now wants to say it was $16 billion — so as to justify this new “$27 billion at least” mantra.

That an ’03 $16 billion pricetag fits with CPPP’s narrative today doesn’t change the fact of what the number was. And it wasn’t $16 billion. Everyone is entitled to an opinion about the role of government, but the press and liberal activists aren’t welcome to make up new facts to justify their worldview.

The fact of the matter is that going forward, the state has a pool of money to spend — money taken from your pocket — to spend on governmental services. That number available is $72 bilion and change in general revenues. That’s how much lawmakers can spend. What was done in the past might be interesting for review, but it is the responsibility of this legislature to pass a budget within those means. It’s all about prioritization. We all do it, every day, with our own money. We expect no less of the lege.

It’s fine for the merry band of well-meaning socialists at CPPP to say the budget needs $16 billion, $27 billion or $100 billion more, but the press should look far more skeptically at the premises upon which their numbers are based.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

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


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