Texas Senators today voted to bust the current spending cap so as to provide more property tax relief with the surplus than they might have otherwise. Before their vote, Michael Quinn Sullivan sent the following letter.

February 14, 2007

Dear Members of the Texas Legislature:

For the sake of taxpayers, Texas’ lawmakers should vote to bust the state’s spending cap. It is the opinion of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility that this is the only way Texans can be assured of receiving meaningful property tax relief.

We make the important distinction that tax relief should begin before reaching the cap, and then extend beyond the cap.

It is interesting that while the spending cap has not served as a limit on state spending, it has served to limit tax relief. All the more ironic because the constitutional package that gave us the limit was known as the Texas Tax Relief Act.

The state’s record with budget surpluses is not one that inspires confidence for the taxpayer. History has demonstrated that when surpluses exist, the legislature in the past has found creative ways to spend that money. It is our belief that if the spending cap is not busted, and surplus revenues left undedicated for property tax relief, those funds will be spent. And such expenditures will undoubtedly commit Texans to higher taxes in the future to then maintain the level of spending.

It is perfectly permissible to vote, for property tax relief, to bust what has been a meaningless spending cap. Texas voters understand the difference between busting the cap for expanding government, and busting the cap for tax relief.

The state’s spending cap is already broken. Busting it for tax relief is good policy for Texas’ taxpayers.

Michael Quinn Sullivan
President, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility