The Texas Public Policy Foundation sent a letter to the House and Senate budget conferees recommending that the final version of the budget include a provision to prevent Regional Education Service Centers and school districts from hiring registered lobbyists.  The letter, signed by TPPF CEO Kevin Roberts, lays out in detail the “unethical and wrong” practice of local governments spending tax dollars to lobby against the interest of taxpayers.

Read the full letter.

“[T]here is a hidden price paid by every Texan,” writes Roberts. “The cost comes in the form of lower quality legislation and good government reforms delayed or defeated as a result of the artificial representation purchased by the education establish­ment. Evidence of its success is obvious when studying issues like school choice, property taxes, and executive compen­sation reform.

“Unfortunately, those most often on the losing end—like the student stuck in a failing school, the elderly woman taxed out of her home, and the classroom that goes without—are never better off and rarely as visible. Here, too, prudence dictates that lawmakers consider substantive changes to address the cost and consequence of the practice.”

Roberts also argues the public is united against using tax dollars to fund lobbyists, citing one survey in which 91% of Texans were aligned against it.

“Virtually every serious poll has reached a similar conclusion—the public overwhelmingly opposes local governments using tax dollars to hire lobbyists. The strong support manifests regardless of party affiliation or other traditional fault lines. It only makes sense that public policy be brought in closer alignment with public opinion on this matter.”

A provision prohibiting lobbyists from receiving taxpayer funds was included in the engrossed version of the Senate budget but was removed from the House version.  Conferees should keep the Senate provision.