In a jointly authored letter, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus have asked Comptroller Susan Combs and other agency heads to offer recommendations to reduce the state’s current budget by 2.5 percent. The proposed budget cuts will come from General Revenue and General Revenue-Dedicated appropriations.

By soliciting the agency leaders for suggestions on how to cut an already flat budget, the state’s legislative leadership is signaling its willingness to tighten the state’s belt further. And by most accounts, Texans are going to need the extra breathing room.

The Texas Workforce Commission’s newly released December employment statistics show that the state’s unemployment rate rose to 6 percent in December – a rate not seen since July 2004. And according to the Comptroller’s Biennial Revenue Estimate, an additional 111,000 Texans can expect to find themselves unemployed during the first six months of 2009.

With jobs on the decline and businesses hurting, growing the state’s budget – and as a consequence raising taxes and fees – is not the right move. It is encouraging to see that there are those in the Legislature who recognize that.

Exercises in fiscal discipline like this will, in the end, only contribute to Texas regaining its economic footing that much sooner.

– James Quintero