A coalition of 18 conservative organizations held a press conference last week to announce its top budget priorities for the coming session. While Texas blazes new economic trails, leading the way in job creation and growth, the derailment of prosperity across the state is never more than one election away.
The group, named the Conservative Texas Budget Coalition, published a list of priorities including:
- conservative spending limits
- local property tax relief
- abolish the business margins tax
- adopt a tax relief fund, and
- secure budget transparency and accountability
Accounting for population growth and inflation, the biennial 2020-21 state budget should be no more than 8 percent higher than the 2018-19 state budget passed during last year’s session. Limiting the state’s budget growth in this way, they say, allows legislators to fund government while not overly burdening Texans with higher taxes.
Since 2004, state spending in Texas has increased almost 75 percent, or 7.3 percent faster than increases in population and inflation would justify. Despite this, the two prior budgets passed by the legislature have met the constraints of a conservative budget within the group’s preferred framework, although the 2018-19 supplemental budget will determine whether that holds.
The coalition’s call for property tax relief recognizes the runaway nature of property taxes in Texas. Their plan mirrors the governor’s desire for a new law that empowers taxpayers at the ballot box when local governments raise their property taxes over 2.5 percent.
In addition to advocating the abolition of the business margins tax, the coalition also supports a tax-relief fund that would collect savings from cuts in the budget. The balance would be used to buy down property tax rates and replace local school funding with state dollars.
Finally, the group is pushing for zero-based budgeting to help craft future budgets that don’t automatically assume a spending baseline, requiring departments and programs to justify their continued existence.
Texas needs spending limit reform so that Texans have the best opportunity to prosper. With an expected surplus in revenue, lawmakers should support the coalition’s roadmap or be prepared to explain why conservative budgeting isn’t critical for their constituents.
Coalition Member List
Americans for Tax Reform
Texas Public Policy Foundation
Texans for Fiscal Responsibility
Texas Eagle Forum
Young Conservatives of Texas
State Budget Solutions
Citizens Against Government Waste
Grassroots America – We the People
Institute for Policy Innovation
Lone Star Policy Institute
National Taxpayers Union
Our America Initiative
R Street Institute
Texans 4 Truth
Americans for Prosperity – Texas