While pretending to be a news outlet, the Texas Tribune has shown its bias in a rather overt way. Reporting a new poll on the favorability of “anti-tax pledges”, the Tribune tries to present a narrative of an uncertain fiscal situation in the state – as if there’s doubt Texas has the revenue it needs. Informed voters need not be fooled: we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem. 

A report by executive editor Ross Ramsey published today summarizes a new UT/Texas Tribune poll asking, among many questions, should candidates make “anti-tax pledges” before elections?

State Spending compared to Population + Inflation from 1990 to 2010

Those “anti-tax pledges” of which Ramsey refers to are the Texas Budget Compact and the Taxpayer Pledge. These aren’t “anti-tax” pledges in the sense that signers are supportive of eliminating all taxes altogether (as the Tribune would have you believe). They are simply a pledge not to increase the over-burdensome tax-load Texans are facing with new or higher taxes.

The Tribune seems to take joy in reporting that only 36% of respondents favored “anti-tax pledges” – pinning this on the “conservative ideologues” an the TEA Party sector of the Republican Party, while 47% opposed them. But based on the leading way they asked the question, it’s likely anybody would have said no.

Instead of asking respondents a Yes or No question if they support legislators signing pledges not to increase taxes, they asked it in an incredibly biased way to lead practically anyone into saying they oppose them.

Here’s the exact phrasing of the question they asked:

“As you may know, Texas State Legislative candidates have recently been invited to pledge NOT to increase taxes when the legislature convenes in January 2013. 

Q46. Some people say that state legislative candidates should pledge not to increase taxes before the primary elections so that voters know where they stand on taxes. 

Others say that anti-tax pledges lock candidates into inflexible positions before the fiscal situation in January 2013 is clear. 

Which of these positions is closer to yours?

1.     Candidates should pledge not to increase taxes before the primary elections.

2.     Candidates should not make pledges before the fiscal situation is clear

3.     Not Sure/Don’t Know


Anybody who’s been paying attention to the rate of spending over the past several years would laugh at the notion that the “fiscal situation” of Texas is somehow unclear. In the past 20 years alone, the rate of state government spending has doubled the rate of population plus inflation growth, a 300% increase. And lest we forget that public education spending now takes up approximately 60% of general revenue growth, despite the fact that we’ve overfunded enrollment growth by nearly five times population plus inflation growth in the past 10 years.

What’s clear about that is the status quo is unsustainable. What’s unclear is how shills like the Texas Tribune and the big spenders in the Legislature think that more spending is somehow supposed to put Texas on the right track. (Ask California and Illinois how all that spending helped their economies.)

It’s fitting the author of the article, Ross Ramsey, was the same Texas Tribune staffer who said taxpayers should “shut up and eat their vegetables,” as if the Legislature imposing more tax increases and spending would be to their benefit!

Fortunately for taxpayers, there are several candidates in the Republican primary who realize they work for you, not the other way around, and join the more than 90% of Republican primary voters in supporting spending caps.

Several races across the state feature a distinction between candidates who support the Texas Budget Compact – calling for no tax increases, spending limits, and a reduction in the size of government – and those who do not. A few races of note include:



Support Texas Budget Compact

Oppose Texas Budget Compact

HD 4

Stuart Spitzer

Lance Gooden

HD 5

Bryan Hughes

Mary Lookadoo

HD 7

David Simpson

Tommy Merritt

HD 9

Wayne Christian

Chris Paddie

HD 83

Charles Perry

Delwin Jones

HD 92

Jonathan Stickland

Roger Fisher

HD 97

Craig Goldman

Susan Todd

HD 121

Matt Beebe

Joe Straus*

The guys at AgendaWise have put together a full list of candidates in contested races and their position on the Texas Budget Compact (found here). Where does your candidate stand?

*Note: Not only has Joe Straus refused to sign both the Texas Budget Compact and the Taxpayer Pledge, he’s on record saying we “can’t cut our way to prosperity.” – an almost identical quote to Barack Obama. He’s also on record staying he “doesn’t know yet whether Texas needs more tax revenue.”

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.