How do you know you’ve got a pig cornered? When it starts squealing.

PigsA reporter stopped by unannounced on Wednesday. It appears several Republican lawmakers are angry that you are paying attention. They don’t like the fact taxpayers and voters are now asking questions about how they voted in Austin.

This reporter writes for the Amarillo Globe News and the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, and stopped by my office as a courtesy before preparing a weekend story.

Apparently these legislators are trying to spark a negative story about conservatives preparing for the ’08 election cycle. Yep, that’s right: Republican legislators are worried about conservatives being upset with their performance. Good.

They should probably be worried that even more Texans will find out about the $14.3 billion surplus that wasn’t returned, and the property tax appraisal relief that didn’t happen, and which specific Republican incumbents stood in the way!

They want this to be a “are conservatives bashing conservatives” story, when the real story is about how a small number of Republican legislators have ignored conservative fiscal principles to the political detriment of their party.

Clearly we are making some guys nervous! When they’d rather talk about the peculiarities of partisan gamesmanship rather than their votes, you have them on the run.

Apparently the only thing worse than pesky taxpayers asking pesky questions about votes, is the possibility that those pesky taxpayers might hold elected officials accountable at the ballot box.

In the past, legislators spent surplus revenues as “found-money” to grow government. This Session, while they still didn’t give any back as additional tax relief, your pressure kept them from spending it all. And now they have to explain why you shouldn’t have had your money returned in the form of lower taxes.

Remember: these are “Republicans” we’re talking about – the party that built its political brand on cutting taxes, controlling spending and looking for efficiency. Some current Republican legislators seem to have lost their way.

You and I are reminding them of those Goldwater-Reagan principles. And, wow, that seems to get under their skin!

This Session you and I let lawmakers know we knew about the surplus, and are now making them defend their unwillingness to return it. We reminded them that conservatives expect strong spending limits and fundamental reforms to the way government dollars are spent. The tax-and-spend-wing of the Republican Party doesn’t want any light shined on their “bridge-to-nowhere” acts.

Too bad.

We can’t let up! When someone campaigns as a fiscal conservative devoted to holding government accountable for its use of your tax dollars, then they shouldn’t mind people knowing how they voted. But there’s the rub: some legislators are content to campaign one way, and vote another.

Keep up the great work — you are making a difference!

(We’ll see who is actually willing to be quoted in the paper opposing taxpayer protections, property tax relief and appraisal reform. As a courtesy, I won’t name the names he used if/until the story comes out.)

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."