King Discusses Texas Budget and Fiscal Restraint

May 2, 2009

State Representative Phil King

In these difficult economic times, there must be more scrutiny than ever regarding how Texas spends your tax dollars. Every odd year, the Texas Legislature meets to set the state budget for the following two fiscal years. After 19 hours of debate on the House Floor, we successfully passed your state budget. My Republican colleagues and I focused on the priorities that you and your family expressed were most important.

These budget priorities included increasing the quality of our public schools, improving job-training programs, reducing the cost of government, lowering your tax burden and protecting those in our society who struggle to protect themselves – the very young and the elderly. As we debated the budget until 4:30 am, we remained committed to protecting essential programs while ensuring that government spending tightens its belt, just as your family has had to do.

When the state collects your taxes and fees most of the money goes into the General Revenue Fund. In developing the budget, we reduced spending from the General Revenue by approximately $2 billion. This is your tax money we are saving, and we are proud that by working together we were able to reduce the future size of government.

Some highlights of the budget include establishing and protecting job training programs for people displaced by these difficult economic t i mes; fully funding our veterans’ needs, as Texas must honor our commitment to those long-distinguished veterans and those just returning from duty; increasing our public education expenditures by 1.8 billion dollars as all our children deserve every opportunity to succeed in school; reviewing government spending; and ensuring that those who are truly ill and unable to pay receive necessary medical care. All of this was successfully achieved while reducing expenses from the General Revenue Fund by approximately $2 billion.

Unique to this year’s budget cycle is the federal stimulus money that has recently gained notable attention. The stimulus money is an influx of your federal tax money coming back to you. Since this is a one-time receipt of funds, it is our duty to assure that this money will be used only for one-time expenses such as school construction, rebuilding of the gulf coast and other single item expenses, rather than growing gov e rnment programs that expect taxpayers to continue new spending every two years.

Creating any budget is always a difficult task and doing so for a state as diverse as Texas is especially challenging. However, our priorities are clear and our commitment is strong to make certain that Texas addresses the most important needs while also remembering that this money is yours, not ours, and it is scarce and hard-earned.

It is an honor to serve you in the Texas Legislature.