AUSTIN— Today, a coalition of conservative groups called on the Texas legislature to support measures that would significantly limit or eliminate the ability of local governments to use taxpayer dollars to pay for lobbyists. In the last session, local Texas governments spent some $41 million of taxpayer money on contract lobbyists. A poll taken last December by WPA Intelligence showed that 91 percent of Texans opposed using tax dollars to pay for lobbying, including 80 percent who strongly opposed it.

Several bills introduced in the 86th Legislature would create an outright ban on using taxpayer money to pay for lobbyists, while others would significantly increase transparency and accountability, including voter approval, for any tax-funded lobbying.

The coalition calling for ending taxpayer-funded lobbying includes the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Americans for Tax Reform, the Republican Party of Texas, Grassroots America – We the People, Americans for Prosperity – Texas, Convention of States, and the Kingwood TEA Party.

“Taxpayers shouldn’t be footing the bill for lobbyists who often push for legislation that contradicts the interest of the taxpayer,” said the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Executive Director Kevin Roberts. “We need better reporting requirements, accountability, and transparency to ensure tax dollars are used the way they are intended and not to influence the decisions made by the people’s elected state representatives.”

“Texas has a national reputation as a bastion for conservative governance. Yet many Americans would be surprised to learn that in Texas, Lone Star State taxpayers see their hard-earned taxpayer dollars used to hire well-heeled lobbyists who push state legislators to further raise various taxes and fees,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “Taxpayer dollars should be used to finance core functions of government, not pad the bank accounts of high-priced lobbyists whose job it is to grow government, not the economy. Americans for Tax Reform is urging Texas lawmakers to end this unjust misuse of taxpayer dollars.”

“At the 2018 State Convention, Republicans supported ending taxpayer-funded lobbying by an overwhelming 94 percent,” said RPT Chairman James Dickey. “They voted for this because they know it is vital that we prohibit taxing entities from using tax dollars to lobby against the interests of the taxpayers. This deplorable activity must come to an end.”

“Taxpayers’ hard-earned money is used against them to lobby for laws and policies that spend too much, borrow too much, tax too much, and regulate too much,” said JoAnn Fleming, Executive Director, Grassroots America – We the People. “Taxpayer-funded lobbying is akin to inviting a robber into your home to steal you blind – except the homeowner doesn’t do the inviting.  His local elected officials do. It’s time to end it.”

“Local governments already have lobbyists – the duly elected state senators and representatives from their areas. Spending taxpayer money on third-party lobbyists is not an appropriate role of local government or in the best interest of taxpayers,” said Sam Sheetz, Policy Director of Americans for Prosperity – Texas.

“Our elected representatives at all levels are supposed to work with one another to represent and act in the best interest of We the People,” said Shelby Williams, Texas State Director of Convention of States. “To use our hard-earned tax dollars to pay lobbyists to advocate for the bureaucracy–over the people–is an abrogation of their sacred duty under the American system of government.”

“The boundless greed of local Texas governments is bankrupting Texas and driving so many of the destructive policies and bills in the Texas legislature. Kingwood TEA Party supports the effort to end taxpayer dollars being used to pay for local government lobbyists,” said Jim and Robin Lennon of the Kingwood TEA Party.