"We agree with Speaker Straus' statement today that ‘we cannot afford business as usual.' As intimidating as the task may seem to some legislators, we must balance our budget by focusing on the spending side of the equation.
"Many of the budget cuts made during our last budget shortfall in 2003 were restored two years later when the state's tax revenues rebounded. Additionally, the Legislature has spent beyond what it budgeted in 2007 and 2009.
"As a result, the state's budget has grown at almost twice the rate of population growth plus inflation since 2003, which means the cost of state government per person has gone up. We should not take even more money out of Texans' pockets through higher taxes – especially when Texans' per-capita personal incomes have dropped the last six consecutive quarters.
"Whenever government faces a budget shortfall, our elected leaders must take advantage of the opportunity to bring government back to its core purposes. Every agency budget request must be aggressively scrutinized so that the Legislature does not wind up raising taxes to pay for non-essential programs."
The Honorable Talmadge Heflin is Director of the Center for Fiscal Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Heflin served 11 terms in the Texas House of Representatives and chaired the House Appropriations Committee in 2003, leading the Texas Legislature's successful efforts to close a $10 billion budget deficit without a tax increase.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit free-market research institute based in Austin.
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