Texasâ€™ budget surplus has grown even more. State employees will get a pay raise, taxpayers? Still nothing. The Office of the Comptroller announced yesterday that the state is bringing in $1.5 billion in additional revenues â€“ over and above the previously announced budget surplus numbers.
This adds insult to legislative injury. Not only did they not use the budget surplus for additional property tax relief, they now have even more fundsâ€¦ to not use for much-needed relief.
But donâ€™t worry, the money will be used â€“ to fund â€œcontingencyâ€ programs. These are things lawmakers wanted to fund if extra money was found, including the pay raise for state bureaucrats. Legislators couldnâ€™t even bring themselves to put taxpayer relief in contingency category. More spending, yes; tax relief, no.
Youâ€™ll recall that Lt. Gov. David Dehwurst said during the legislative session he didnâ€™t want to commit to any additional property tax relief because the future may not be as rosy as the present. (Um, okayâ€¦ Thatâ€™s not exactly the thinking an actual conservative would endorse, but might be confused with sounding responsible-ish.)
Apparently, though, itâ€™s okay to use that â€œextra moneyâ€ to grow the size of government. This means if the economy does slow, youâ€™ll be on the hook for higher taxes to cover the costs of the extra spending.
This highlights why legislation sponsored by Taxpayer Hero Ken Paxton, a state representative from McKinney, was so important. His idea was to constitutionally dedicate surplus revenues to tax relief. It was a good idea when he proposed it, and itâ€™s relevance to taxpayers and the health of the stateâ€™s economy is even more apparent now than ever. When there is extra money in the coffers, taxpayers â€“ not tax spenders â€“ should have first dibs.
Too many legislators are unwilling to reduce real tax burdens in times of plenty, but are all too willing to set the stage for higher taxes in times of want.
And the legislators wonder why taxpayers are so frustratedâ€¦ Make sure your incumbents and their challengers know you expect them to reform the budget and make lasting provisions for tax relief.