The Texas Legislature finished its work two months ago with lawmakers failing to deliver on many of the issues that matter most to taxpayers. With complete Republican control, lawmakers had time to designate an official Twitter hashtag and play a football game among themselves, but they didn’t find the time—or the will—to pass property tax reform, spending limits, or curtail regulatory overreach.
But you wouldn’t know it from the politicians.
They’ve returned home from the legislature and are now running around their districts thumping their chests over the meager crumbs of reform they can claim, eager to tell citizens of all the “good work” they did in Austin. And about those few pesky things they didn’t do…well if you’d be as kind as to re-elect them, they say, they’ll be sure to get the job done… eventually.
So how do Texans know if their elected leaders have truly earned “one more chance”? Virtually every Republican lawmaker campaigns as the second coming of Ronald Reagan, but how can Texans know if their state representative or state senator’s legislative record matches his campaign rhetoric?
The Fiscal Responsibility Index is a measure of how lawmakers perform on size and role of government issues. Texans for Fiscal Responsibility uses exemplar votes on core budget and free enterprise issues that demonstrate legislators’ governing philosophy. The public — including lawmakers — are notified in advance of TFR’s position on the issues prior to votes taken on the floor, and of our rationale.
Just like a report card, the Index assigns lawmakers a numeric grade from 0–100. Those who vote for cutting taxes, trimming regulations, and limiting government earn high marks. Those who vote against such measures earn failing grades. Just like Texas schools, a 70% rating is a passing score.
Those lawmakers who fare poorly on the Index tend to make a lot of excuses, rather than defend their record. But Texans know better. They know that their seventh grader didn’t score an “F” on his Algebra test because Mrs. Stephens has it out for him, but rather because he didn’t study or do his homework.
And in this case, our gradebook is open to the public. By and large, the Texas Senate – led by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick – did the job expected. Senate Republicans posted an average rating of 88 compared to the overall Senate average of 71. In the Texas House, Republicans average only a 62, compared to the House average of 47.
At index.empowertexans.com, Texans can find their lawmakers’ ratings and how they lawmaker voted on the more than 100 votes included on the Index. You can also get the details on each and every vote used to calculate the ratings.
We cut through the legislative jargon and explain the choices lawmakers faced in detail. Not only are Texans now armed with the truth about their legislator’s voting record, but they are able to easily share this information with friends and neighbors.
By providing citizens with clear and concise explanations of the votes taken by their legislators, we’re empowering Texans to take action and hold their elected officials accountable.
There are a lot different ratings out there, and we encourage Texans to take a look at all of them. Each rating system – whether those from Young Conservatives of Texas or Texas Right to Life – provide snapshots of lawmakers’ records so that citizens can cut through the political clutter.
At Texans for Fiscal Responsibility we know that someone’s always keeping score, we think it ought to be the taxpayers.