An Obligation to Cut

Will taxpayers actually see some gumption from Republicans during Thursday’s debate on the state budget? Several GOP freshmen have pre-filed amendments seeking to cut wasteful government spending in favor of addressing the state’s major unfunded teacher pension liability. How the rest of the GOP caucus votes will be telling.


Several Republican House freshmen have pre-filed amendments to SB 1 – the state’s budget up for debate on Thursday – that would shift wasteful government spending to the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) in order to address the pension fund’s estimated $27 Billion unfunded liability. Such programs/entities include:

  • Board of Professional Geoscientists
  • Agricultural production development
  • Economic Development programs
  • Alternative Energy Resource development
  • Lottery Commission marketing/promotions
  • TX Research Incentive Program
  • Border Faculty Loan Repayment Program
  • Texas Natural Gas Vehicle Grant Program
  • Clean Transportation Triangle Program
  • Alternative Fueling Facilities Program

While unfunded pension liabilities are a serious problem for state and local governments that require systematic reforms – the state cannot ignore the growing liabilities of the TRS – the fifth largest public pension in the U.S. as of last September. Cutting wasteful government in order to fulfill the state’s current obligation is responsible budgeting.

It will be interesting to see which GOP freshmen follow-though and offer their amendments during Thursday’s deliberations on the budget. It’s not uncommon for legislators to pre-file amendments to a major bill, only to pull it down after learning the author doesn’t agree with it in order to avoid conflict, or because a similar amendment was adopted first.

It will be even more interesting to see who actually supports these amendments once they’re offered. Will the establishment stand up in support of responsibly prioritizing how your tax dollars are spent? Or will they go on record supporting wasteful government while ignoring a $27 Billion liability to retired Texas teachers?

 

A list of amendments, including ones redirecting funding to TRS obligations, subject to scoring on the Fiscal Responsibility Index will be posted by Wednesday morning. 

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Dustin Matocha

Dustin Matocha is the Executive Vice President of Empower Texans. Dustin graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BBA in Management, a BA in Government, and a minor in Marketing. He’s a self-described Corvette enthusiast, baseball purist, tech geek and growing connoisseur of local craft beer.

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