Under Gov. Greg Abbott’s leadership the size of the state budget has grown by 19 percent, according to a report from Texans for Fiscal Responsibility released Wednesday.
According to the organization, the state budget has increased by $32 billion, property tax collections have increased by 28 percent, local debt by 19 percent, and yet the population has only increased by 5.4 percent.
“The government expanded beyond the population it is set to serve under @GovAbbott & Republican #txlege leadership,” TFR posted toTwitter.
According to TFR President Tim Hardin, “Most conservatives consider the size and scope of the government to be far beyond what our founders originally intended. TFR agrees that government should be so small that we can barely see it. But with a $250 billion biennial budget, we are not even close to the size of a government that fiscal conservatives would deem to be ‘limited.’ Why then would we classify a budget that allows a government to grow (even at a limited pace) conservative?”
Hardin argues that a conservative budget is one “that grows 0% or even more precisely, one that shrinks government back to its rightful size.”
“TFR believes that defining a budget as ‘conservative’ when it limits growth to pop+inflation is not being honest. The truth is the government has been too large for decades and it is time we actually do something about it. TFR would like for conservatives to come to their senses to actively advocate for cuts that shrink the size of our state budget permanently.”
Focusing in on a particularly hot topic with most Texas taxpayers, the property tax collection increase is among the highest in the nation.
“Homeowners feel the same way about property taxes,” says Hardin. “They are too high and they are immoral. Simply slowing their growth by capping rate increases doesn’t help anyone, they must be eliminated. Conservatives need to [stop] conceding that our budgets and taxes must continually increase forever and finally say enough is enough.”
Gov. Abbott’s Republican Primary challengers agree.
Former State Sen. Don Huffines told Texas Scorecard, “Voters have consistently elected Republicans on the promise to reduce the size and scope of government and provide tax relief for families. Unfortunately, Greg Abbott and the Texas Legislature have chosen further spending, increased bureaucratic bloat, and even funded Left-wing programs in our schools and universities.”
“When I am Governor of Texas, we will save millions of dollars by reducing the growth of spending and putting property taxes on the path to zero.”
Former Texas GOP Chair, Lt. Col Allen West says he plans to completely revamp the way Texas proceeds with the budgeting process.
“In Texas, as in DC, we find that the spending virus has infected our economy. Texans can’t own their own homes but the budgetary gimmicks of Austin are being revealed. Sadly, this has occurred under Republicans and [is the] reason why we need constitutional conservatives at the helm. It’s time to put the Texas state government on a zero based budget system, not the baseline system that has allowed this onerous increase in spending,” West told Texas Scorecard.
“This is what happens when elected representatives embrace big government values with zero fiscal accountability. They are never told “no.” They spend with absolutely zero sense of value for the dollar or the economy and completely disregard the consequences of their decisions and its impact on citizens,” said media personality Chad Prather in a statement to Texas Scorecard.
“Greg Abbott has led the charge in the realm of fiscal irresponsibility,” Prather added. “An increase of 47 BILLION dollars in spending has occurred on the current Governors watch. His entire campaign proves this. There is nothing conservative when a Governor brags that he has over 55 million dollars in his campaign war-chest in order to continue to keep an expanding government fiscally ‘responsible.’ A farmer, a lineman, a doctor, a teacher, a lawyer, a stay at home parent etc. would identify this as a budget for failure. The amount of fiscal irresponsibility being exhibited right now is unsustainable.”
Huffines, West, and Prather further discussed their plans to move away from a property tax system in the True Texas Project Forum on Monday evening.
Abbott and the 87th Legislature—with a Republican majority—did very little to ease the property tax burden on citizens, only accomplishing relief for certain citizens—such as disabled veterans and their spouses—while increasing the homestead exemption.
Despite the property tax reforms in 2019 spearheaded by the 86th legislature and State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), the reform provided very little to lower property tax bills.
On the Republican primary ballot voters will be asked decide on will be asked if they agree or disagree with this statement: “Texas should eliminate all property taxes within ten (10) years without implementing a state income tax.”
The Republican Primary will begin on March 1, 2022.