Today we’re mailing* all members of the 83rd Legislature the initial outline of the 2013 Fiscal Responsibility Index. As we have done in the past, scores will be based on votes and legislative actions consistent with our principles, mission and values—and only on issues and legislation we announce in advance of the votes. Additionally, House members will find their scores negatively impacted if their winning speaker candidate does not allow floor votes on priority legislation.

As we start of the 83rd session of the Texas Legislature, our priorities include:

  • Balance the budget without increasing taxes or creating new revenue sources
  • Oppose the creation of new taxes, granting of additional taxing authority, or creating any new taxing entities
  • Strengthen the constitutional expenditure limit, such as by requiring that the Legislature choose the lower of the change in the sum of population-plus-inflation or the current measure
  • Apply the same limitation to all political subdivisions and entities, while providing the option for an election to exceed the spending limit
  • Protect the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund, using those dollars only when necessary to fund non-recurring expenses
  • Reform—up to and including elimination of—the gross margins tax
  • Reforms to the budgeting process, including: greater transparency; ensuring fees and dedicated funds are used only for their explicitly-defined purposes; and, enacting zero-based budgeting
  • Bring greater efficiency to agencies and programs
  • Consolidate and eliminate agencies and programs, including the Enterprise Fund, Emerging Tech Fund and Chapter 313 abatements
  • Reform the state’s licensing and regulatory regimen
  • Expand full fiscal transparency to all taxpayer funded entities in Texas—including cities, counties, transit authorities and school districts
  • Reduce property taxes, and pursue policies to phase out the school M&O tax
  • Enhance parental options in public education
  • Uncap the number of charter schools that can exist in Texas, and providing a “parent-trigger” to transform schools into campus or program charters
  • Efforts fighting federal overreach
  • Protect the integrity of Texas’ elections

We will make every attempt during the legislative session to notify offices of the specific votes we will be scoring, mainly through e-mail and social media posts. Those will also be noted on our website’s 2013 Fiscal Responsibility Index notices page.

Individual members’ scores are based only on the votes actually taken, including any clarifying statements in the House and Senate Journals. Sponsoring and co-sponsoring targeted legislation before January 31 will also be included in the scoring.

Special Note to House Members:
Given the important role of the Speaker of the House in determining committee assignments and chairmanships, and thereby affecting the flow of legislation, a record vote on a contested speakership race will be included in the Index. At the end of the session, priority legislation not receiving a vote on the floor will be counted against the ratings of those who voted for the winning speaker candidate.

That last item is important: House members’ scores will be impacted by the legislative inaction of their successful speaker candidate and committee chairs.

* Letter was mailed January 3, 2013, by both e-mail and US post.
Physical copies were sent to the members’ Capitol addresses.

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."


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