Instead of beginning a legislative session in Texas by discussing how much to spend, legislators should assure Texans that taxpayer money is already being spent wisely. Improved auditing of government expenditures would be possible when Texas shifts to a program-based budget that shows the source of funding for each program in the budget. This would provide budget transparency that would allow legislators to effectively administer zero-based budgeting, whereby every program must have a legitimate reason to exist before receiving funding.

By starting the budget process this way, legislators could be better stewards of taxpayers’ money and would not force Texans to pay unnecessary taxes. This process should be paired with a discussion of how much to provide in tax relief. Ultimately, the path to achieving abundant prosperity in Texas is for legislators to always pass a conservative budget.

Under the Conservative Texas Budget, spending growth above the previous biennium for state (non-federal) and all funds in Texas for the 2020-21 period would be limited to no more than population growth plus inflation. This paper explains why the Legislature should use this metric and how the Foundation calculates these limits, which are based on the budget data chronicled in the Foundation’s publication The Real Texas Budget (Ginn et al. 2018).

Key Points

  • Texas should make history in 2019 by passing the third consecutive Conservative Texas Budget.
  • The Conservative Texas Budget sets maximum appropriations limits based on population growth plus inflation to slow the growth of state spending.
  • Texans are paying excessive taxes as the 2018-19 budget is up $14.8 billion higher than if increased by population growth and inflation since 2004.
  • The 2020-21 appropriations limits are $156.5 billion in state funds and $234.1 billion in all funds. The 2018-19 supplemental limits are $3.60 billion in state funds and $4.44 billion in all funds.