Part 1: The 83rd Legislative Session: Big Spending, Squandered Opportunities
The following overview of the just concluded regular session of the 83rd Texas Legislature comes from a coalition letter delivered to Gov. Rick Perry. Grassroots America and the TEA Party Caucus Advisory Committee, chaired by GAWTP’s Executive Director JoAnn Fleming, are signators to the coalition letter. They are joined by Texas Public Policy Foundation, Americans for Prosperity-Texas, Americans for Tax Reform, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility/Empower Texans, Texas Public Policy Action, and Young Conservatives of Texas. Together, these organizations represent the powerhouse of the Texas conservative movement. You should be proud to know that after five years, Grassroots America has been vaulted to this level of state leadership. We thank God for the opportunity He has put before us!
May 29, 2013
To the Honorable Rick Perry, Governor of the State of Texas:
The just-ended legislative session grows government too much and offers too little tax relief.
The 83rd Texas Legislature appropriated about $22 billion more in General Revenue (GR) and Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) spending than did the 82nd Legislature two years ago, a 26 percent increase. [Editor’s note: The ESF is also known as the Rainy Day Fund.]
Even with this large amount of revenue available, the Legislature failed to achieve the $1.8 billion marker for tax relief that you set down earlier this year. HB 500, the main tax cut vehicle this legislative session, amounts to only $714 million in tax relief—much of which is temporary and dependent on certification of available funds by the Comptroller. The only permanent tax relief is in the $1 million exemption for small business, worth about $387 million in the coming biennium. The other half of this tax measure, the phased 2.5 percent and 5 percent rate cut, is temporary, expiring in 2016 and resulting in a one-time tax cut of $327 million.
It is not surprising that the Legislature failed to provide adequate tax relief given the level of spending in the several appropriations bills that passed this session. For instance, HB 1025 drew down $1.75 billion from the ESF (Rainy Day Fund) to undo the delay in education funding passed in 2011, even though GR funding for this has already been appropriated in HB 10.
A much better use of funds from the ESF would be a $1.8 billion reduction in the state sales tax. This could readily be achieved by reducing the state sales tax rate by 0.25 percent. If delayed by four months into the fiscal year, this would meet the $1.8 billion goal.
The challenge is if HB 1025 becomes law with the $1.75 billion appropriation from the ESF, there will be little chance to implement this or any other tax cut that would reach your original goal of $1.8 billion in tax relief. If funding is available, however, an expanded call in the special session would be able to address these shortcomings.
Governor Perry, Texans want less government growth, not more. For instance, 94 percent of Texas voters in the 2012 Republican Primary supported the ballot proposition that called for “limiting any increase in government spending.” This proposition came in almost a point higher than the proposition supporting the repeal of ObamaCare.
Thank you for your efforts to put the interests of Texas taxpayers above that of special interests. We look forward to continuing our work with you on keeping the American Dream alive and well in Texas.
Mrs. Fleming and her colleagues in the Texas Legislature’s TEA Party Caucus Advisory Committee went even further. They sent a written plea to Gov. Perry asking him to veto both HB 1025 (raid on the RDF) and the budget, sending the legislature back to the drawing board. A 26% increase in spending over last session is reckless, given the brittle fiscal state of the federal government and the fragile global economy.
This is the first in a continuing series of articles on the 83rd legislative session authored by GAWTP Executive Director Fleming that we will publish in the next several weeks.
Our JoAnn is part of a team of state leaders from the Conservative Budget Coalition that will soon be touring the state talking about the big spending and squandered opportunities in the 83rd legislative session. This ground offensive will be a call across Texas to prepare the people for the 2014 primary elections. We must have new leadership whose number one goal is to make Texas strong and prepare Texas to lead the way in the next chapter of enduring freedom and liberty for these United States of America. If Texas falls, so does the nation.
Please help JoAnn prepare for the hard work ahead this summer and fall. She does not get paid to do this work. Please help us help her with travel expenses. The rest of Texas needs to hear her straight talk! Please donate to Grassroots America today!