Earlier this fall, Texas’ Republican House Speaker told newspapers he wants the legislature to focus on revenues, not spending corrections. This week, California’s Democratic governor is asking his state to approve increases in their sales and income taxes.
Both CA’s Jerry Brown and TX’s Joe Straus are wrong. Neither state suffers from revenue problems; it’s the spending.
Back in 2003, when Texas, California and other states were similarly facing budget shortfalls and tough economic times, newspaper editorial writers and political pundits opined that unless the Lone Star State adopted an income tax civilization was in peril.
Wisely ignoring them, lawmakers cut spending and made several important systemic reforms. As a result, entrepreneurs fled the high-tax states (like California) and jobs moved to the Lone Star State.
Now Gov. Brown is telling Californians that the choice is new revenues or damage to the education system, and Mr. Straus recently echoed the recent words of Barack Obama on the need to raise revenues.
Texas’ House speaker told the El Paso Times the legislature has “no choice… you can’t cut your way to prosperity.”
Demands for more money always includes threats against people: give government more money or watch the schools get slashed, let criminals roam the streets, or see grandpa tossed to the street. (We know tax hikes really do erode prosperity, destroy jobs and limit freedom…)
But there is nowhere to cut? Really?
According to Joe Smith at TexasISD.com, the state of Texas is paying a half-billion dollars over five years to a London-based vendor to implement a new statewide test. It’s a test that will inevitably tell us very little of actual use. Tests created by outside vendors for beaucracy rarely say little other than what the beaucracy wants to hear. That’s why after doubling per-pupil spending over the last decade in Texas, our SAT scores are flat, drop-out rates remain staggering, and half of our students entering the state’s universities require remediation.
Foolish ventures like this are why Texas state government spending has grown nearly 300 percent since 1990, while the combination of population and inflation has risen at half that rate.
And we know growing government and raising taxes are loser issues with voters. Three-fourths of Texas voters earlier in the year reported that they were more interested in a budget-cutter than a tax-raiser. That means a responsive legislative leadership team would be knuckling down on spending, not parroting the talking points of liberals.
In the last three Republican primaries, 90 percent of voters agreed to a ballot question asking if all levels of government should be strictly limited. Unfortunately, not only did Speaker Straus’ “Republican” leadership team ignore this policy plea, he didn’t include limits on government spending in his recent “interim charges” leading up to the next session. After all, Joe Straus wants legislators focused on bringing new revenues, not pursuing efficiency and restraint.
Not surprisingly, folks like Speaker Straus and Gov. Brown have their supporters among the spenders and government vendors. A California State University professor says that it’s time for her state to “lead the rest of the country” in raising taxes.
Texas voters in 2012 should be concerned we have a legislative leadership in Austin that might be willing to follow Sacramento… right over an economic cliff.