With free money (your great-grandchildren’s) dangling in front of them, the Texas Senate Finance Committee voted 13-to-1 to spend federal stimulus dollars. The lone dissenter was North Texas Republican Jane Nelson. She’s worried about enlarging the base of entitlement with temporary federal dollars that will go away in a matter of months, leaving Texans with higher taxes and bigger government.

“I understand those who say this is a temporary benefit, but there is no such thing as a temporary entitlement,” Sen. Nelson said. “Because of our fiscal discipline in the past, Texas can meet its responsibilities to our most vulnerable citizens — children, seniors, and the disabled — with or without the stimulus dollars. We need to live within our means, just as every Texas business and family is doing in this economy.”

Nelson is absolutely right. The federal stimulus dollars don’t represent free money, and they will impede – not help – Texans trying to improve their lot.

“What happens if we come back next session facing even tougher times without the federal assistance? The decisions will be twice as painful,” said Sen. Nelson.

Taxpayers need to be very worried about lawmakers using these federal dollars, because in far too many cases the stimulus money requires the state to grow the size and burden of government. This puts state taxpayers on the hook for much bigger expenses two years from now.

While Sen. Nelson is known for her steely-eyed determination, I bet she didn’t wake up today thinking she’d be the lone voice for commonsense in the Republican-controlled Senate Finance Committee.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, and a dog. Check out his podcast, Reflections on Life and Liberty.

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