Fiscal Restraint Key to Economic Recovery

March 1, 2009

Guest Column by Rep. Phil King

As a board member of the Texas Conservative Coalition (TCC), the conservative caucus of the Texas Legislature, I am excited talk to you about our roadmap for a responsible state budget.

During these difficult economic times, with congressional spending reaching over $1.5 trillion in the name of economic stimulus, the Texas Legislature has a responsibility to demonstrate fiscal restraint. Upholding sound budgeting practices will keep Texas from falling into the fiscal disrepair that the rest of the nation is experiencing.

Over the past six years, Texas has prioritized state spending and exercised fiscal responsibility, so it is by no mistake that Texas is one of only seven states to enter 2009 without a budget deficit. While California, for example, enters its budget cycle buried in red ink (with over $40 billion in state debt), Texas remains well in the black.

The TCC, in a recent letter to legislative colleagues and through press releases across the state, has proposed firm measures to ensure that your state government remains financially sound through these uncertain times:

  1. Reduce current General Revenue and General-Revenue dedicated spending by 2.5 percent for the FY 2010-11 budget.
  2. Maintain a Rainy Day Fund balance of at least five percent of state’s total budget.
  3. To the extent possible, limit the use of federal “stimulus” funds to one-time expenditures, or expenditures with a sunset date that matches the end-date of the “stimulus” money.
  4. Constitutionally limit state budget growth.

My pledge to you is that I will hold firm to the principles that have kept Texas’ state government financially sound while so many other states are near financial collapse. This requires hard decisions but no more difficult than the tough decisions you make in your family and business every day of this recession. I also pledge to you that I will work against any and all efforts to increase your tax burden this legislative session. This is the time to make sure families and businesses keep more of what they earn. This type of fiscal policy is the single best “stimulus” to keep Texas’ economy strong.