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Taxpayer Protection Must Be Priority

AUSTIN, Texas – State budget challenges of recent years have brought into focus the importance of fiscal discipline and accountability, while calling into question the efficiency of the tax and expenditure limitation set in the Texas constitution in 1978.

Legislation filed by State Rep. Carl Isett of Lubbock has filed House Joint Resolution 48, which would amend the Constitution and restrain government growth to a combination of inflation and population growth.

The Foundation’s vice president, Michael Sullivan, applauds Isett’s effort.

“Texas taxpayers, and our economy, need the protection that comes from limiting tax increases and government spending to the rate of inflation and population growth,” said Sullivan. “Our existing ‘limitation’ is no limitation at all.”

He added that “by forcing fiscal accountability, everyone is protected, and everyone’s best interests are served. If there truly is a need to expand the growth of government or increase tax revenues beyond the limitation, then lawmakers should take that position to a vote of the people.”

The chief economist of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Byron Schlomach, Ph.D., has found that the state has one of the weakest taxpayer protections in the nation. Indeed, Schlomach has reported, the existing “limitation is all but meaningless in its ability to restrain legislators and protect taxpayers.”

Several states have strong taxpayer protections, including Colorado, which provided $3.25 billion in tax rebates to Colorado residents from 1997 to 2003.

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