The Dallas Morning News Editorial Board wrote an Op-Ed about projected budget shortfalls the Texas Legislatures will face next year, misnaming them deficits.
Deficits happen when you have $100 and spend $150. When projected expenses are more than projected tax revenues you have a projected shortfall.
The Texas Congress, unlike the US Congress, is constitutionally bound to a balance the budget. When you and I take a pay cut or face unexpectedly high expenses we have to trim expenses, maybe even move into a smaller house or apartment to free up some cash. Our state constitution ensures the Legislature must behave likewise. These projected shortfalls are nothing the Legislature hasn’t faced before.
As for the gross margins tax introduced in 2006 to mitigate a property tax cut, it was always as an overall tax cut. Legislators passed it fully aware that overall revenues would be smaller. Again, this only means budget decisions need to be made and there’s room for cuts.
The public school system has slowly left the “educating kids” business in favor of the “employing adults” business, with nearly the same amount of non-teacher as teacher positions. Also, money doesn’t necessarily drive education quality as we’re routinely reminded by the District of Columbia one hand and South Dakota on the other. The District of Columbia is always at or near the top of the cost-per-pupil list and near the bottom in performance measures. South Dakota is the opposite.
Times are tough and our legislature will have to accomplish goals more cheaply like the rest of us. However, a consistently fiscally responsible approach over the years, aided by a constitutional requirement not to run deficits, has put Texas in the best position of any state.