The free market in Austin
Now that conservative voices have been moderated by the selection of state Rep. Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, for the House Speaker position in Austin, we ask that our own state Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, who supported Straus over stalwart conservative Midland Rep. Tom Craddick, consider the following free-market statements on Republican state Comptroller Susan Combs’ revenue estimates for the upcoming session (in other words, how much will be available to spend in state government.)
"The comptroller’s revenue estimate makes clear what we have suspected for several months: while Texas has positioned itself better than just about any other state, we will not be immune to the effects from this national recession.
"The Texas Legislature needs to demonstrate leadership this year by pruning state spending now.
"Already, there are calls by some groups to expand entitlement programs and raise taxes, but Texas must not follow the examples of other states that have wrecked their economies by letting their budgets spiral out of control.
"Restraining our spending now will give us more options in the event that this national recession is prolonged," said Talmadge Heflin, former appropriations chairman when he served in the House.
"In 2001, the legislature convened with a $6 billion surplus and the knowledge that the state’s economy was slowing.
"Instead of showing fiscal restraint, the legislature increased the state’s budget by 16 percent – an increase that absorbed the entire surplus.
"Even worse, much of the new spending went toward new programs that would become even more costly in the next budget cycle.
"Two years later, the legislature returned to a $10 billion budget deficit.
"The irresponsible budget adopted in 2001 forced the 2003 Texas Legislature to make deeper, across-the-board spending cuts than would have been the case had it started off with both a smaller budget hole and some cash reserves to help cover it."
That 16 percent budget increase was the result of Pitts, first elected in 1992, holding the appropriations spot after Heflin was defeated for re-election in his Houston-area district.
The president of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, Michael Quinn Sullivan, offered the following comment on Combs’ revenue estimate:
"This news is not at all unexpected, given the national economic situation," Sullivan said.
"It’s even more important now than ever that legislators this session strictly prioritize spending to the essentials and work to cut taxes so the state’s economy is as flexible as possible.
"The worst possible thing the Legislature could over the next 140 days is raise taxes or hike spending
"Now is the time for spending restraint and tax cuts."
And with the Americans For Prosperity chapter in Texas (under the amazing leadership of Peggy Venable) keeping an eye on this session in the form of their famous free market report card, we need as many free market advocates as possible in Austin.
Will this be accomplished under the moderate takeover of the House?
Our watchdogs in Austin will keep us informed.