Kudos are due to the Legislative Budget Board, and Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and Speaker Craddick specifically, for on Friday opting to use a low spending growth estimate. In fact, they chose the lowest growth rate number in the history of the Texas Legislature. This offers Texans real tax protection in the face of a worsening national economy and calls in-state for bigger government and more intrusive taxes.
The LBB is a creation of the Legislature, and is composed of the Lt. Gov., House Speaker and the chairman of key committees. They are charged with maintaining the fiscal integrity of the state when the Legislature is not in Session and picking the spending limit for the upcoming legislative session.
In 1978, voters adopted the “Texas Tax Relief Act” which amended the state constitution with a very weak spending limit. It was completely ignored for a decade, and then only paid lip-service to for another decade after a legal challenge. The amendment gives the Legislature to authority to define the limitation, and it only applies to a narrow band of spending.
For years the “limit” has been set at projected personal income, with no one legally charged with checking to see if the limit was ever appropriately set. And projected personal income,/i>? That’s about as meaningless a “number” as one can imagine. It’s saying “the sky is the limit” without putting it in law.
Each year the LBB asks various egg-headed economists to guess, er, project personal income growth. This year, they selected the lowest growth rate ever, and one that comes close to what one might expect population and inflation (a far better limitation) to be.
In order for the left to sock it to Texas’ taxpayers, they will have to go to rather extraordinary lengths to do so. Dewhurst, Craddick and their chairman have done taxpayers a great service before the legislative session ever gets started.