With no say in the matter whatsoever, taxpayers across the state are forced to foot the bill for lobbyists’ advocacy efforts in the legislature to the tune of millions of dollars per legislative session. Worse yet, these tax dollars are spent advocating for policy positions that are often at direct odds with the interests of the taxpayers who fund them.
In the 2015 session, local governments spent a staggering sixteen million wining and dining legislators to gain favor for policy positions. In fact, 42 percent of lobbyists that session represented city and county governments. Which begs the question:
What sort of policy positions?
The Texas Municipal League – a voluntary association of municipalities – provides a telling guide as to what kind of big-government measures these resources are spent defending, or alternatively, the pro-taxpayer reforms they oppose. Items such as defending involuntary annexation, red light cameras, opposing revenue (tax-rate) caps, opposing ballot transparency, and opposing bond reform are just a few of the fundamentally anti-taxpayer policy items this money is spent on.
Policy goals aside, the practice of using taxpayer resources on lobbying the legislature is, quite simply, philosophically indefensible. It is already generally forbidden for officials to use taxpayer resources to support a candidates’ campaign – and for obvious reason. Most people frown upon officials abusing resources under their purview for political purposes.
Should it not be that the same logic is applied to where the political rubber meets the road, and forbid spending money taken from taxpayers on hiring lobbyists to advance a political agenda?
It is plainly obvious to conservatives that the use of tax dollars on lobbying legislators is a toxic practice – both philosophically and practically. In the interests of the constituents they purport to represent, legislators should stand up this session and work towards banning the practice altogether.