While Texas’ statewide elected officials are leading the charge to cut spending, one Austin Democrat is trying to pass a bill to allow the Legislature to spend more of your money.

State Rep. Donna Howard (D–Austin) is proposing a bill to increase the state’s spending limit by changing the definition of what spending can be limited.

Currently, the Legislative Budget Board limits the spending of all revenue that does NOT come from the federal government, or is dedicated for a specific purpose by the Texas Constitution. While the process of setting a limit isn’t much of a limit at all, it does provide some stopgap from out-of-control spending.

This biennium, legislators limited the spending growth rate to 10.7%. Had they used population and inflation as their gauge, the limit would have been 9.85%.

HB 652 by Rep. Howard would factor in revenue sitting the state’s Rainy Day Fund to the total amount of appropriations currently limited by the LBB – making a flawed process even worse for taxpayers by applying that 10.7% growth rate to a larger amount of money.

The logic of HB 652 is as follows: you can say your budget at home is still balanced, but only because you now factor in the money drawn from your savings account every month to pay your cable bill. It’s fiscally irresponsible and borderline dishonest.

Think her bill has no shot of going anywhere in such a Republican-controlled legislature?

Just remember, Rep. Howard was the one who passed an amendment last session that automatically drew-down the Rainy Day Fund – with a supermajority of Republicans in the House. (The conference committee later took her amendment out.)

Don’t be surprised if she tries to slip her new bill by everyone in the House by attaching it as an amendment to another bill. Hopefully Republicans will be paying more attention this time around.

If anything, Rep. Howard is showing us exactly why Texas needs strict constitutional limits on state spending.

Dustin Matocha

Dustin Matocha is the CFO and COO of Texas Scorecard. Dustin graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BBA in Management, a BA in Government, and a minor in Marketing. He’s a self-described Corvette enthusiast, baseball purist, tech geek and growing connoisseur of local craft beer.