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Earlier this week, Governor Perry and Lt. Governor Dewhurst reiterated their call for a stricter state spending limit, a reform that is desperately needed to rein in the long-term growth of government spending.

As we detailed in an April 2012 Policy Brief, Trends in Texas Government: State Government Spending, the growth of state government spending is fast-outpacing Texans' ability to afford it. Consider that from fiscal 1990 to fiscal 2012, state spending grew by 310 percent; yet the sum of population growth plus inflation grew by just 132 percent.

Hypothetically speaking, had state spending been limited to the sum of population growth plus inflation-a metric supported by both the Governor and the Lt. Governor-spending between fiscal 1990 to fiscal 2012 would have only grown from $23 billion to $53.2 billion. Instead, under the currently weak spending limit we have now, spending has grown from $23 billion to $94.3 billion-quite a big difference in the size of government and the burden on taxpayers.

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Other than limiting the growth of state spending to inflation plus population, other ways that the Legislature can improve the state's constitutional spending limit include:

    • Make sure the TEL is self-contained within the state's constitution and does not require enabling legislation;
    • Apply the provisions to the rate of growth of all appropriations-not just non-dedicated, non-federal funds;
    • Require a supermajority vote of each chamber to exceed the limit rather than the current standard of a simple majority vote; and
    • Apply the spending limit to all levels of Texas government. Currently, the limit is only aimed at state spending.

To read a detailed report on strengthening the state's constitutional spending limit, see here.

Source: Trends in Texas Government: State Government Spending

 

 

 

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