“The Texas Senate has set a good benchmark for the 2010-11 state budget negotiations. Our senators deserve credit for keeping the state’s budget growth within a reasonable limit and not tapping the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund.

“The federal stimulus package was bad policy. To the extent that our legislators decide to accept the federal stimulus funds, they should use them to plug revenue holes in existing programs rather than growing government and increasing the state’s financial obligations in the future.

“We are still deeply concerned about the stimulus funds because the rules for using them are still in development. In some cases, the people who will write them have yet to be hired. We urge the budget conferees to ensure there is a mechanism in the final budget that if any new strings emerge during the rules process, the state agencies receiving the stimulus funds must obtain permission from both the Governor and the Legislative Budget Board before they can spend those funds.”

The Honorable Talmadge Heflin is Director of the Center for Fiscal Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin. 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, Texas. – 30 –