The Great Texas Budget Debate Continues: TPPF Statement on Mischaracterization of Budget Report
WELCOME TRIBTALK READERS!If you’re here thanks to the opinion piece in TribTalk of 5 June 2014, "GOP voters are being misled on spending,” then we invite you to explore our Real Texas Budget report and our work surrounding it. You’ll find that the assertion that “[TPPF] now claims …. that state spending did not increase by 26 percent but by 9 percent,” is false: the two numbers are for different metrics, and the Foundation stands by both. Here is a great chart explaining the difference. If you want to know more, feel free to contact us!
The Foundation today released The Real Texas Budget, designed to give Texas taxpayers an accurate accounting of exactly how much of their money Texas government is spending.
Almost as soon as The Real Texas Budget was released, critics claimed that the “TPPF report on ‘The Real Texas Budget’ revises” our “estimate in Texas spending growth down to 9%” and that we were “nowhere close to [the] 26%” that we had used when questioning the amount of spending authorized by the 83rd Texas Legislature.
This is simply not the case. There has been no revision; the Foundation is saying the same thing today that we did in 2013.
In 2013, the Foundation stated, “Compared to two years ago, lawmakers appropriated and authorized $20 billion more in GR & ESF, a 24% increase.”
In The Real Texas Budget today, the Foundation stated, “The Texas Legislature appropriated $44 billion more in 2013 than it did in 2011, a 25.8 percent increase.”
The only difference is that the original comment was about general revenue (GR), the most recent was about All Funds. If we want to compare apples to apples, the Real Texas Budget charts released today show that GR & ESF appropriations increased 24.03% from 2011 to 2013.
The 24 percent from 2013 and the 24 percent from this week both refer to the amount of total appropriations in each session, or “Session Spending” as we referred to it last year. Very simple and straightforward. With no revision.
The confusion stems from the critics' comparison of our numbers on session appropriations with our numbers on the increase in biennial spending. While the Foundation did report that biennial spending will increase 9 percent during the current biennium—including $1.5 billion in supplemental spending that critics claim are not included, this is a completely separate issue, one that is treated separately in the Real Texas Budget.
There is no question about the accuracy of the Foundation’s numbers. They are as accurate today as they were when their accuracy was acknowledged during debate on the House floor last year.
What we should be debating is how much tax money the government should take from Texans each year; we should be debating how to provide taxpayers with an accurate accounting of state spending; we should be debating the $8 billion cost to Texans this year of excessive government spending.
The Great Texas Budget Debate is going to continue throughout this year and into 2015. The Foundation will continue to accurately inform Texans how much their government is really spending, and how we can slow the growth of spending and return the savings to taxpayers.