With Texas taxpayers struggling under rising property taxes, the former Democratic candidate for governor, Chris Bell, calls them greedy. In demonstrating why 70 percent of Texans voted for someone else, Bell says taxpayers shouldn’t be asking for a refund of the tax surplus.
In a commentary being distributed by the failed candidate, Bell chastises me for pointing out that voters should get back the $14.3 billion surplus – extra revenues collected by the state during this current budget period. It’s their money!
My organization, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, has now mailed almost 33,000 voters in nine senatorial districts. The districts were selected based on senators who either serve on the important Senate Finance Committee, or chair another influential committee.
Bell complains that his home was one of those to receive the mailing. He describes our mailing as inspiring voters to “summon all the greed they could muster and demand money back from the Texas state government.”
He suggests that a long litany of failings in government welfare services are “proof” taxpayers have under-funded the bureaucracy.
As was evident to Texans in the November ’06 campaign, Bell simply has his facts wrong. He is either unaware of, or indifferent to, the fact that state funding for Child Protective Services, public education, and the Children’s Health Insurance and Medicaid programs have all increased year-after-year for years, and especially during the last two sessions. Again, legislators grew government at 18.7 percent; that is real – unsustainable – growth in spending.
But on one important point, Bell is right. He is correct in characterizing many government programs as failing. He’s just wrong about the cause.
We’ve tried the Bell approach for years: throwing more and more taxpayer money at problems. The result has been failure.
Let’s try something different. Let’s let taxpayers keep more of their money, and address social problems through real charity and efficient stewardship of government programs, not wasteful bureaucracy.
The state’s surplus amounts to $600 per Texan. If Mr. Bell and other liberals feel guilty about the rest of us being under-taxed, they can simply write extra checks to their charity of choice: big government.
Of course they don’t have the humility or charity to do that. They prefer to use your money, and a lot of it, to fund high-cost programs that simply don’t work.
Is it greedy to ask for your change back? That is precisely what thousands of taxpayers have now done as a result of TFR’s mailing.
Bell wants to grow government with your money. And he correctly understands that returning the surplus to taxpayers takes money out of the pockets of the spenders, and puts it back in the hands of the earners.
Taxpayers are continuously told to foot the bill for an increasingly costly government. Last legislative session state lawmakers grew government 18.7 percent, and yet our economy has still managed to produce a surplus of $14.3 billion.
Far from being greedy, Texans want lawmakers to be honest with our money. We were given a price tag for the cost of government, we overpaid, and now we should get our money back. As a trial lawyer, Bell can apparently afford to overpay everywhere he goes, but most working Texans cannot.
Bell claims the surplus grew out of “draconian cuts” to the state’s budget by legislators. If an 18.7 percent increase in state spending is a “cut,” not even Bill Gates could afford the “increases” that Bell apparently wants imposed on us. It’s no wonder 70 percent of us said “no” to his liberal philosophy.
Texans deserve true tax relief. Lawmakers should continue to ignore Chris Bell, and return the surplus to Texas’ taxpayers.
Michael Quinn Sullivan is president of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility (www.EmpowerTexans.com), an Austin-based organization promoting budget reform and taxpayer protection.