AUSTIN – The Texas Public Policy Foundation opened its 9th Annual Policy Orientation for the Texas Legislature by releasing “Keeping Texas Competitive: An Agenda for Prosperity and Growth,” a package of policy recommendations for the 82nd Texas Legislature.

“Our research has documented that free markets and limited government have been the reasons for Texas’ economic dominance during the last decade,” said Foundation president Brooke Rollins. “With the recession we just came through and the difficult challenges ahead, we wanted to put together a roadmap to help our legislators understand how they can use these 140 days to position Texas for future greatness.”

The “Keeping Texas Competitive” agenda is broken down into four areas.

Reduce Texas’ Tax and Spending Burden. – Balance the budget within available revenue, without raising taxes or fees while safeguarding the Economic Stabilization Fund. – Eliminate programs and agencies that are outside the Constitutional vision of limited government. – Adopt a strong tax and expenditure limit that limits increases in state and local spending to population growth plus inflation or the growth in personal income, whichever is less. – Adopt a new state budget methodology that focuses on expenditures made at the program level to make the appropriations process more transparent, understandable, and efficient.

Stand Up Against Federal Overreach. – Win state control over health care delivery and reduce health care costs without sacrificing quality. – Reduce Texas’ dependence on federal funds. – Strengthen state authority in air quality permitting and resist federal encroachment over state environmental law. – Prevent efforts to regulate carbon dioxide and eliminate green energy subsidies and mandates.

Improve Educational Quality for Texas Students. – Eliminate the cap on state charter schools. – Eliminate restrictions on virtual school courses and enrollment that do not apply to traditional courses. – Base administrator/teacher pay and employment on performance, eliminating salary schedules and restrictions on firing educators that do not apply to other Texas workers. – Tie higher education funding to student success results such as graduation, number of degrees issued, student satisfaction, employment outcomes, and student assessments.

Foster a Free Market Economy. – Improve Texas’ civil justice system by adopting a fair “loser pays” statute, an early dismissal for frivolous lawsuits, and a more efficient system for handling claims under $100,000. – Eliminate price regulation of homeowners insurance and telephone service in competitive areas, reduce regulation of and interference with Texas’ wholesale and retail electricity markets, and enact clear, rigorous requirements for cost-effectiveness analysis in TCEQ and other state agency rulemakings. – Ban the use of eminent domain for takings that are not for a public use and apply the Texas Real Private Property Rights Preservation Act to cities to prevent regulatory takings. – Define landowners’ private property rights in groundwater. – Allow consumer choice in health care through expanded scope of practice and an HSA option for state employees. – Do not create criminal offenses for non-fraudulent business activities or license more occupations.

“While the budget will suck a lot of the air out of the room, we believe that Texans deserve to have all of these issues discussed and debated on the floors of the House and Senate,” Rollins continued. “If our legislators are able to move these issues forward with the Foundation’s help, Texas will be in an even better position than we are today.”

More than 500 copies of “Keeping Texas Competitive: An Agenda for Prosperity and Growth” were distributed at the Policy Orientation’s opening breakfast, which featured keynote remarks by Texas Gov. Rick Perry and a debate over federalism between TPPF Senior Fellow Ted Cruz and Center for Public Policy Priorities Executive Director F. Scott McCown.

Brooke Rollins is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit free-market research institute based in Austin.

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