"The recent estimates of a $10.7 billion to $15 billion state budget surplus vindicate the limited government policies Texas has pursued during the last five years. By holding the line on spending, we have been able to keep taxes low, encouraging businesses to locate and expand here. While other states hemorrhage jobs and red ink, Texas leads the nation in job creation and is one of the few states with an improving revenue picture.

"We are pleased that the Governor and the Legislative Budget Board understand the importance of instructing state agencies to continually scrutinize their priorities. While the budget process we went through in 2003 was ultimately beneficial, it is better to exercise fiscal discipline up front rather than to scramble for billions of dollars in budget cuts later.

"Regardless what the surplus amount winds up being come January, the two iron-clad priorities for those funds are to fund the continuation of the 2006 property tax cut and to preserve the balance in the Rainy Day Fund. Whatever of the taxpayers' money remains after that should go back to them rather than toward bloated government spending."

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NOTE: The Honorable Talmadge Heflin is a former Chairman of the Texas House Appropriations Committee.