Budget hope is not lost in the Texas Senate. Indeed, resurgent conservatives in the upper chamber are pushing the right priorities. Now we’ll see if leadership will respond with the right numbers.
The Senate’s budget spends too much money that the state simply doesn’t have. The spending needs to be dialed to the level taxpayers can afford, not what liberal shills want to spend.
Fortunately, an effective conservative bloc is emerging in the Texas Senate on fiscal issues. This was evidenced by votes last Friday during debate on Senate Bill 1811, the “new revenues” legislation.
In vote after vote, a block seven to a dozen senators sought to move the legislation in a fiscally prudent direction. That may not sound like a lot, but in the Senate, it just takes 11 to grind the body to a stop.
The right-thinking-bloc was an interesting mix: senior senators, like John Carona and Jane Nelson; junior senators, like Dan Patrick and Joan Huffman, and stalwart newbie Brian Birdwell. Others, like Florence Shapiro, Troy Fraser and Mike Jackson, joined in the fray. Together, they made a consistent case for sound fiscal policy throughout the debate.
These thoughtful conservatives are attempting to prioritize rationally how the state should allocate the taxpayers’ scarce resources. They are trying to be being responsible stewards.
Sen. Patrick, for example, appears representative of this group: he wants more funding to flow into the classroom, but doesn’t want the rainy day fund tapped or other gimmicks used. That means better prioritization.
No budget will be perfect; no one can rightly expect that. What we should be able to expect is a Senate budget that better spends available dollars… but only uses dollars that are actually available, without tapping the rainy day fund.
The Texas House got the bottom-line mostly right, and the Senate’s conservatives are trying to make the priorities work effectively.
Now if only the legislative leadership will listen, Texans can end this Session with a budget of which taxpayers can be proud. And, more importantly, afford.