After drawing the top-seniority rank among the 42 members of the Texas House freshmen class, incoming State Rep. Matt Krause of Arlington put taxpayers first by filing legislation to require zero-based budgeting.
During freshman orientation, new members draw numbered Ping-Pong balls to assign rank. By pulling the ball marked “1,” Mr. Kraus—a one-time college basketball standout—shot to the top of his historically large class.
More importantly, his first legislative initiative would require the legislature to begin regularly starting the budget from zero. This is perhaps one of the most important structural reforms the Legislature can adopt in protecting taxpayers and improving the effectiveness of state spending.
Currently, the legislature uses “baseline” budgets—a discredited technique used for years at the federal level to grow government and put programs on the path to eternal existence.
Baseline budgeting assumes that no expenses ever become obsolete, and that no expenses can ever be reduced. For each expense, baseline budgeting allows for only one consideration: how much more money should be spent.
Baseline budgeting has led to deceptive, establishment talking points, such as spending increases being talked about in the press as “cuts” because agencies and programs don’t grow as fast as they want.
On the other hand, a zero-based budget requires that every agency and program justify the very first dollar they are getting in the new budget—demonstrating effectiveness and efficiency. Zero-based budgets tend to be more transparent, forcing spenders to carefully account for each dollar.
While proud to endorse Mr. Krause in his election, we’re pleased to see him promoting substantive reforms that promote better fiscal stewardship in Texas for all Texans.