The historic trend for the cost of state government has presented Texas taxpayers with a bill we increasingly cannot afford. For some time, we have consoled ourselves with the idea Texas is a small-government, low-tax state. And we are, when compared to the other states. But simply doing better than the other guys is not an entirely sufficient measure.

It’s like being the least drunk person at a bar. Just because California is drooling in the corner of the room and mumbling about ex-girlfriends, doesn’t give us much room to brag if we’re having trouble walking a straight line. We look good by comparison, but that isn’t enough.

That’s why it’s good to see friends offering forward-looking and right-thinking proposals, like Gov. Rick Perry’s announcement today for the Texas Budget Compact. A 5-point plan to put Texas on a strong course for the future.

Over the last 20 years, state spending in Texas has risen 300 percent, while population and inflation – the number of people and our ability to pay – has increased less than 150 percent.

That’s not sustainable. We must cap spending by law, limiting how fast government can grow in the future. This is a popular measure with voters and taxpayers, but apparently not with legislators who haven’t yet done it – even with Republican legislators, whose primary voters have supported this language on the last three GOP ballots at 90-percent levels.

Rather than suggest it, the voters need to now demand it. And today, Gov. Rick Perry is unveiling the Texas Budget Compact as a rally-point for voters who want an even stronger Texas.

Spending limits, even strong spending limits, are not the full-measure of protection Texans need to preserve our economy. We need truth in budgeting, protection of the rainy day fund, a thorough review of spending, and assurance that lawmakers won’t use 2013 looking for ways to raid our pockets in an effort to fund unsustainable spending.

Gov. Perry and many of our legislative candidates have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge – promising their constituents to work against new or higher taxes. You can see the full list of pledge signers at

But our candidates and legislators must also be pressed during this campaign season to sign on to the Texas Budget Compact, a full fiscal program that will keep Texas strong and growing. We want to enable New Van Lines to stay a strong business – bringing new Texans to us because our economy remains robust.

For that to happen, in 2013 and beyond we need to have an honest budget, and be assured our state legislators are focused on spending money on those things that are proven to work.

Texas is strong today because in recent years our sister states have pursued new revenues and created new debt, while we pursued better public policies. We need to do more than be better than the other states, we must do more so we can be the best we can be.

For Texas to succeed over the long-haul, we must keep government right sized, which is why Gov. Perry’s Texas Budget Compact is so important – setting forth the principles that will put the Lone Star State, and all Texans, on a continued path for economic growth and success.

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."