Will the Texas Legislature Give You Back Your Money?

January 9, 2023

We all know that everything is bigger in Texas—including the upcoming biannual revenue estimate. Thanks to escalating property values, robust oil and gas pricing and increased sales tax generation led by Texas consumers, revenue will potentially reach more than $280 billion.

Yet, as is all too often the case, the runup to this legislative session has been filled with a cacophony of silence when anyone around the Capitol suggests downsizing government, reducing the size and scope of regulation, or reducing property tax liability on homeowners. We are, sadly, used to seeing this in Washington D.C., where under two years of the Biden Administration over $5.7 trillion in spending has been approved leading toward record national debt and historic inflation. Further, pork barrel earmark spending was restored by Congress earlier this year.

While bloated government and wasteful spending is nothing new out of Washington, this isn’t what’s supposed to happen here in Texas—in recent history, we’ve been a model for restraining spending, voting in the halls of power consistently for smaller government and less obtrusive regulation on businesses and everyday life. But this legislative session is different with an estimated $27 billion in cash surplus, a Rainy Day Fund near its statutory limit at $13.67 billion, with education focused endowments like the Permanent School Fund and the Permanent University Fund flush with cash at over $80 billion in assets under management. The size of the Texas budget surplus is larger than the annual general fund expenditures of 40 other states. Why are legislators being so coy about this historic opportunity to return money to the Texas taxpayers?

Results speak for themselves when conservative ideas win in the Texas State Capitol. Texas is the state with the most Fortune 500 companies, according to the Fortune 500 annual list of the largest U.S. corporations, with 53 Fortune 500 corporate headquarters that call our state home. Many of these companies have moved from higher tax, higher regulated states including the announcement this past Summer that Caterpillar will be relocating here from Illinois. From startups to large corporations, job creators choose Texas because of our business-friendly climate and an understanding that our elected leaders won’t abuse or mishandle the precious resources taxpayers provide. With jobs comes more population growth, which is one of the greatest indications of success—particularly when many who come here are from states with bloated government with debt obligations that have no hope of ever being repaid. But to continue this remarkable streak, Texas leaders need to be vigilant with our resources and concerned voters need to hold them accountable.

A bold conservative outcome for this Session would be to provide a long-awaited property tax relief package that sends a loud and clear message to Texas property owners that they no longer have to fear being taxed out of their home. Additionally, the Lege should work on an across the board cut of operational budgets for State agencies much like private business underwent during the economic uncertainties of COVID. Consequently, business and investment would continue to be attracted to the dynamic Texas economy with the knowledge that state government can responsibly manage excess revenues and encourage accountability of its executive agencies to operate efficiently.

Don’t let legislators hide behind constitutional amendments that they claim restrict this action—demand that they do their job. Creativity and determination should triumph when it comes to taxpayer dollars. Everything might be bigger in Texas, but government spending doesn’t always have to be. If you agree with me that this Session should prioritize the Texas taxpayer, please call your legislator to make your voice heard.