And… They’re Off!

After spending your tax dollars at record-breaking and bank-busting levels, legislators are now hitting the streets looking for campaign cash. Republicans will wow you with tales of just how conservative they have been. They might think they are, but the results of the legislative session paint a very different picture.

Here are seven questions you should ask.


Dewhurst

Question 1. On what date will a strict, new constitutional spending limit take effect?
Answer 1. There isn’t going to be one. Both Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus once again failed to even bring a floor vote on spending limits. Why? They don’t want their hands tied from reaching as deep as possible into your wallet. Shameful. And bad politics: remember, 94 percent of Republican Primary voters said on the May 2012 ballot that they wanted a strict constitutional spending limit of population-plus-inflation. Messrs. Straus and Dewhurst failed to deliver. Again.


Straus
In the Senate, the constitutional amendment made it out of the committee but died without getting floor consideration. Mr. Dewhurst cannot expect credit when conservative things pass, yet take no responsibility when conservative priorities die awaiting action.

In the House, Joe Straus’ anti-taxpayer team on the Appropriations Committee refused to hold hearings on the issue.

Q2. How much did the legislature increase spending between this session and last session?
A2. The Texas Public Policy Foundation and the Wall Street Journal both report
The real answer is 26 percent. Be warned: most legislators will lie about this, and the liberal media will cover for them. Lawmakers will fraudulently claim spending was increased by single-digits. If you can stop laughing, walk away.

In 2011, the legislature appropriate $84 billion. In this 2013 session, they appropriated $102 billion. What lawmakers count on is you not knowing is how many smoke and mirrors they employed in wasting your money. They will try to all manner of tricks; back-dating the calendars, pushing forward the dates, assigning dollars into “off-the-books” categories, and so on.

Simple math: $84 billion, $102 billion, 26 percent. That is irresponsible math.

Q3. Did you vote against the bloated state budget?
A3. Only 32 members of the House and four members of the Senate can answer correctly (that is, voted against the budget). The rest voted for the biggest budget in state history, setting Texas on the path to fiscal ruin trod by California.

Q4. When will zero-based budgeting take effect?
A4. It won’t, any time soon, anyway. Proposals implementing it were never allowed to move in either chamber. (See Answer 1 above.)

Q5. Is the legislative leadership coming after you?
A5. If not, why not? Probably because they voted for the bloated budget, stayed away from constitutional spending limits, and worked to drain the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund.

Q6. How much broad-based tax relief was passed?
A6. [There should be crickets chirping.] Depending on how it is counted, there was $1.4 billion in tax relief in a 26% growth spending session. And most of that was illusionary – for example, counting cash-transfers to “low-income” Texans to pay part of their electric bills is not tax relief. It’s not even a rebate!

Q7. For House members, have you signed a pledge card to Speaker Joe Straus?
A7. Pledge cards have been distributed. Will your legislator lie? We know that in the House, after a lot of bold talk, most senior members chose to back-down – hoping to appease the moderates by quietly pledging support to Straus without admitting publicly. For their trouble, they got zilch accomplished for the conservative movement.

Texas’ conservative citizens are looking for fighters who put their campaign words in legislative action. We need those who have squandered our time and money to just go away. Those legislators who cannot prove they were deep in the fight, should be encouraged to step aside for those who will be.

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Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael is president and CEO of Empower Texans. A graduate of Texas A&M, former newspaper reporter, one-time Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president, and an Eagle Scout, Sullivan is married with three children. He divides his time between the Metroplex, the rest of Texas, and Austin.

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