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An Unconvincing Start for the Texas Legislative Budget Board

Date posted: November 16, 2012

By JoAnn Fleming 

The vote by the Legislative Budget Board to set the state spending limit was really the first vote for the upcoming legislative session and will be scored as such by those who size up voting records. The LBB’s action sends voters a signal and sets the tone for the upcoming legislative session. They are off to an unconvincing start. 
LBB Straus and Dewhurst
It is important to remember that “all funds” state spending has grown at more than twice the rate of population and inflation since 1990. Our state’s practice of maximizing the pull down of federal dollars helped fuel the increased spending. Now that Texas is no longer a “donor state,” (Texans paying in more federal taxes than the state receives back) the excuses for chasing federal dollars fall a bit flat. In the past eight years, Texas got more out of the federal Treasury than Texans paid in.[Source: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/headlines/20120805-texas-can-no-longer-complain-that-it-gives-more-than-it-gets-from-federal-government.ece
 
The LBB vote for a state spending limit greater than population growth and inflation opens the door to a budget that increases the cost of government on every Texan. Texas families and small businesses can ill afford more government spending as new federal health care taxes kick in on top of the payroll tax, investment tax, estate tax and income tax increases looming from the federal government on January 1, 2013.
 
 
The LBB was told during the meeting that a population-plus-inflation limit would be9.85% for the biennium; the board then adopted the growth rate of 10.71%provided by the Office of Texas Comptroller Susan Combs.
 
 
The LBB’s staff presented five forecasts of 2014-15 Texas personal income growth ranging from 8.71% by the University of North Texas Center for Economic Development to 12.21% by Moody’s Analytics. The LBB voted unanimously to choose the 10.71% estimate from the comptroller’s office, which was the second-lowest forecast, but still higher than the 9.85% population-plus-inflation limit.
 
 
We appreciate the verbal commitments made by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Senate Finance Chairman Tommy Williams that the Senate’s budget will not exceed the rate of population growth and inflation, but we urge the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker, and Comptroller to strengthen the Lt. Governor’s position when they finally set the state spending limit during the next 10 days.
 
 
While the commitments from the Lt. Governor and Senate Finance Chairman Williams sound at least promising, comments from the House side of the LBB sent up red flags – especially those from the Republicans who engaged in verbal backslapping about their sterling records of fiscal restraint. Truth is – the highest conservative rating from the House side of the LBB is a C+ average from the past three years. The others are all C, D, and F-rated. Their poor fiscal conservative records, added to Speaker Straus’s stance that “you can’t cut your way to prosperity,” mean we will be counting on the House’s senior fiscal hawks and the conservative freshmen to curtail spending in the House version of the state budget. [Straus quote from http://www.elpasotimes.com/news/ci_19211497]
 
 
We are pleased to have a commitment from the Lt. Governor that he will work to end the series of gimmicks used in the past to help balance the budget. That’s good news, since Texans don’t expect their state leaders to use Washington DC-styled tricks to balance the state’s budget in the first place. We expect our state officials to do what small businesses and families are doing – bracing for higher costs and the impact of a $16 trillion and growing federal debt.
 
 
Texas must get its fiscal house in order, while properly funding the core functions of state government. To do that, our state must 1) stop handing out tax dollars to big business and crazy, non-essential spending on things like Formula One racing for Austin; 2) end fraud, waste and abuse in Medicaid and other social services, and 3) cut wasteful duplicative state departments, agencies and programs. There’s more – many more ways to reduce spending, but serious attention to these three items would be a much more convincing start to the legislative session by our statewide officials and state legislators. 
 
JoAnn Fleming, Executive Director (volunteer), Grassroots America – We the People www.gawtp.com   

Knowledge is Power and together we can make the difference!!

Alice Linahan

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Voices Empower has partnered with the Freedom Trailer Teams to Educate, Inspire and Motivate.

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Breaking; The First Vote – Setting the Tone for the Texas Legislative Session

Date posted: November 14, 2012

Texas Defenders of Freedom, this is your first post-election call to action!

By JoAnn Fleming 
Executive Director (volunteer), Grassroots America – We the People  www.gawtp.com

Photo by Texas Budge Source

We must pull together to hold our state officials accountable for their number one responsibility – to protect the life, liberty, and property of the citizens of Texas. We cannot survive what is coming to our nation if Texas is not principled and its legislative decisions are not strongly rooted in liberty-based values of limited, fiscally responsible government and the rule of law.

The First Vote – Setting the Tone for the Texas Legislative Session
The Texas Legislative Budget Board meets tomorrow (Thursday, November 15) at 10 AM in the Senate Finance Committee Hearing Room, Capitol Extension, Room E1.036. The LBB will vote to set the spending limit on part of the 2014-2015 budget for the 2013 legislative session. This vote will set the tone and direction for the legislative session, which begins January 8, 2013. For those who live in the Austin area, this is a posted public meeting, which means you have every right to show up and observe the vote.
 
What is the Legislative Budget Board and who is on the Board?
The LBB isa legislative service agency whose statutory purpose is fiscal and policy analysis for members of the legislature. It is similar to the federal Congressional Budget Office (CBO). By law, the Legislative Budget Board is made up of the Lt. Governor (David Dewhurst – Rep.), the Speaker of the TX House (currently, Joe Straus – Rep.), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee (Senator Tommy Williams – Rep.), the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee (State Rep. Jim Pitts – Rep.), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee (State Rep. Harvey Hilderbran – Rep.), and three members appointed by the Lt. Governor (Sen. Robert Duncan – Rep.; Senator Judith Zaffirini – Dem.; Senator Juan Hinojosa – Dem.) and two other members of the House, appointed by the Speaker (State Rep. Dan Branch – Rep. and State Rep. Sylvester Turner – Dem.).
 
WarningThe average conservative ratings of the LBB’s members over the past THREE legislative sessions are Sen. Williams = D; Sen. Duncan = F; Sen. Hinojosa = F; Sen. Zaffirini = F; Rep. Pitts = D; Rep. Hillderbran = C; Rep. Branch = C+; Rep. Turner = F. Speaker Straus has already come out strongly in favor of more spending.
 
Why is this first vote for the upcoming 83rd legislative session so important?
Historically, the spending limit set by the LBB has not been a real limit on government growth. Our state constitution allows the legislature to decide what measuring stick the LBB can use to set the limit; they currently use projected personal income growth. As a result, the state government has set budgets based on available cash and Washington DC-like budget gimmicks such as fund diversions, accounting tricks/deferrals, tax speed-ups, a Medicaid ‘credit card’ and inflation of property values). This practice must end this session!
 
Your Call to Action – Texas Needs YOU!
Reasons to set a conservative spending limit:1)National economic uncertainty demands fiscal discipline for the State of Texas; 2) the current state budget contains spending outside the core constitutional functions of state government, wasteful practices in the administration of social services (Medicaid) and many overlapping, duplicated depts/agencies/programs (38 in Natural Resource management); 3) higher spending and debt drive higher taxes and fees, which Texans cannot afford – especially with higher federal taxes are on the way and a $16+ trillion federal debt.
Please call the LBB members today and before 9:30 AM tomorrow. In your best professional, firm, statesman-like voice (no yelling, name-calling, swearing or threats), ask them to set the spending limit at what families and small businesses can afford – not what special interests want. Ask the Legislative Budget Board members to set a spending limit at or below the sum of population growth plus inflation for the 2014-15 budget cycle – no more than 4.2% per year. Tell them setting a spending rate above 4.2% is completely unjustifiable and unacceptable. The legislature can find spending cuts to live within this limit and still properly fund the core constitutional functions of state government. [Source:Analysts at Empower Texans say population growth in Texas has been at about 1.7% per year, while inflation has averaged 2.5% during the last decade, for a combined rate of 4.2%.]
 
Lt. Governor David Dewhurst (R)
Send e-mail to Dewhurst’s Chief of Staff:Blaine.Brunson@ltgov.state.tx.us
Austin Office:  512 463-0001
Fax: 512-463-0677
House Speaker (current) Joe Straus (R)
Austin Office:  (512) 463-1000
Fax:   (512) 463-0675
Senator Tommy Williams (R) (average fiscal responsibility rating last 3 sessions = D)
Austin Office:
 (512) 463-0104
(512) 463-6373 fax
Beaumont District Office:
 (409) 896-2350
(409) 896-2454 fax
The Woodlands District Office
 (281) 364-9426
(281) 364-9473 fax
Senator Robert Duncan (R) (average fiscal responsibility rating last 3 sessions = F)
Austin Office:
 (512) 463-0128
Fax: (512) 463-2424
Lubbock Office:
 (806) 762-1122
Fax: (806) 749-2828
San Angelo Office:
 (325) 481-0028
Fax: (325) 655-2541
Childress Office:
 (940) 937-0909
Fax: (940) 937-6994
Senator Juan Hinojosa (D) (average fiscal responsibility rating last 3 sessions = F)
Austin Office:
 (512) 463-0120
(512) 463-0229 Fax
McAllen Office:
 (956) 972-1841
(956) 664-0602 Fax
Corpus Christi Office:
(361) 225-1200
(361) 225-3576
(361) 225-0119 Fax
 
Senator Judith Zaffirini (D) (average fiscal responsibility rating last 3 sessions = F)
Austin Office:
(512) 463-0121
Laredo Office:
(956) 722-2293
(956) 722-8586 (fax)
San Antonio Office:
(210) 657-0095
State Rep. Jim Pitts (R) (avg fiscal responsibility rating last 3 sessions = D)
Austin Office:
 (512) 463-0516
(512) 463-1051 Fax
Waxahachie Office:
(972) 938-9392
(972) 937-2842 Fax
State Rep. Harvey Hilderbran (R) (avg fiscal responsibility rating last 3 sessions = C)
Austin Office
(512) 463-0536
(512) 463-1449 Fax
Kerrville Office:
(830) 257-2333
(830) 792-4289 Fax
State Rep. Dan Branch (R) (avg fiscal responsibility rating last 3 sessions = C+)
Austin Office:
(512) 463-0367
(512) 322-9935 Fax
Dallas Office:
 (214) 745-5768
(214) 745-5883 Fax
State Rep. Sylvester Turner (D) (avg fiscal responsibility rating last 3 sessions = F)
Austin Office:
(512) 463-0554
(512) 463-8380 Fax
Houston Office:
(713) 683-6363
(713) 957-0718 Fax
Joe Straus Speaker Showdown

Slot Machine Joe Has Got To Go!

Knowledge is Power and together we can make the difference!!

Alice Linahan

Follow @AliceLinahan on twitter and Facebook 

Voices Empower has partnered with the Freedom Trailer Teams to Educate, Inspire and Motivate.

___________________________________________

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  Please attribute to Alice Linahan  with Voices Empower

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Dewhurst continued to rewrite his record

Date posted: October 3, 2011

Just in case you missed it yesterday……..

Dewhurst continued to rewrite his record to make it more palatable to Republican primary voters.

Dewhurst continued to rewrite his record to make it more palatable to Republican primary voters. In the interview, he said: “In the last 10 years, if you count this next biennium, I have the most fiscally conservative record in probably the country.” (http://www.wfaa.com/news/politics/Inside-Texas-Politics-102-130935503.html)

But the facts tell a different story:

On Income Tax

Dewhurst In 2006: “I’d Rather See A Tax A Based On Income.” “‘I think I’d rather see a tax that’s based on income – you earn money, you pay something, you don’t earn money, you don’t pay anything,’ Dewhurst said.” (April Castro, “Businesses Studying Proposed Tax Structure,” The Associated Press, 3/30/06)

On The Job-Killing Dewhurst “Wage Tax”

In May 2005, A Lead Editorial In The Wall Street Journal Slammed David Dewhurst’s Tax & Budget Plan.  “Everything’s big in Texas, and, if powerful Republican Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst has his way, that will soon include the state budget.” (Editorial, “Deep In The Heart Of Taxes,” The Wall Street Journal, 5/10/05)

On The Job-Killing Dewhurst “Wage Tax”

The Dewhurst Wage Tax Would Cost Texas 40,000 Jobs. “A wage tax is a toll on employers for hiring workers, and according to one study the latest Senate plan would cost about 40,000 jobs, or the equivalent of eight auto factories.” (Editorial, “Deep In The Heart Of Taxes,” The Wall Street Journal, 5/10/05)

On Tax Hikes

Dewhurst Told Business Groups In 2005: “It’s Time To Start Paying Your Fair Share.” “Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst angrily accused some top business groups of spreading false information about the Senate’s tax plan Tuesday, and he issued them a stern warning: It’s time to start paying your fair share. ‘There are a lot of lobbyists running around the Capitol today that are interested in protecting special interests and loopholes in the [tax] law,’ Mr. Dewhurst said. Noting that five of six businesses don’t pay the state’s current franchise tax, he added, ‘That is called a loophole.’” (Terrence Stutz, “Dewhurst Blasts Tax Plan Foes Lieutenant Governor Tells Businesses: Pay Your Share,” Dallas Morning News, 5/4/05)

David Dewhurst, August 2003: “We Think We Can Shift Into A Montage Of Different Smaller Tax Increases In Different Areas And Also Put One Or Two Non-Tax Revenue Proposals Into The Mix.” “Regarding the funding of schools, the Republican said Senate leaders were committed to reducing school property taxes by at least 50 percent about $ 7.7 billion a year and replacing the money with a variety of tax increases and some new non-tax sources, including some savings. ‘We think we can shift into a montage of different smaller tax increases in different areas and also put one or two non-tax revenue proposals into the mix,’ he said.” (Terrence Stutz, “Panel To Weigh Tax Hikes In Texas School-Funding Overhaul,” Dallas Morning News, 8/1/03)

On The Rainy-Day Fund

Don’t miss the opportunity to hear what Grassroots and Tea Party people think about the job David Dewhurst and the Texas Leadership have done. Watch this video and get the real story on the Texas Budget.
JoAnn Fleming, Chair – Advisory Committee to the TEA Party
Where applicable, a political advertisement paid for by the GAWTP PAC, PO Box 130012,Tyler, TX 75713, Jimmie Taylor, PAC Treasurer.   www.gawtp.com

 

In January 2011, Dewhurst Was Open To Tapping The State’s Rainy-Day Fund. “Dewhurst left open the possibility of tapping the state’s $9 billion Rainy Day Fund, but he said the baseline budget proposals will stay within the $72.2 billion the state expects to collect in taxes and fees. He ruled out any new taxes.” (Chris Tomlinson, “Lt. Gov. Says 8,000 State Jobs Cut In Draft Budget,” The Associated Press, 1/14/11)

Dewhurst Flip Flop On In-State Tuition For Illegal Immigrants

Ted Cruz statement:  “This is another Republican primary year conversion by David Dewhurst. He was for in-state tuition for illegal immigrants before he was against it. The next Senator from Texas needs to be a strong conservative who knows what he believes.  I strongly oppose in-state tuition for illegal aliens, and categorically oppose amnesty or preferential treatment for illegal immigrants.”

In the WFAA interview, Dewhurst Is Criticizing The Texas DREAM Act – But He Won’t Say Whether It Should Be Repealed. “Though critical of the law, Dewhurst didn’t say whether it should be repealed.  ‘I would not have signed that law, I if I were Governor Perry,’ he said.  ‘From a perspective of fairness, I don’t think it’s fair for our fellow American citizens not to have that break.’”  

In 2007 Dewhurst Said, “Historically The Senate Has Been In Favor Of Providing In-State Tuition For Everyone Living Here.”“‘We’d take a look at it, but historically the Senate has been in favor of providing in-state tuition for everyone living here,’ he said.” (R.A. Dyer, “Migrant Tuition Bill Derailed,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 5/10/07)

At Least One Bill That Would Have Barred Illegal Immigrants From Receiving In-State Tuition Died In The Texas House. “Legislation that would have barred undocumented immigrants from paying in-state tuition at public universities was derailed Wednesday after Texas House lawmakers raised technical objections. The legislation, House Bill 159 by Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, would have reversed a 2003 law.” (R.A. Dyer, “Migrant Tuition Bill Derailed,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 5/10/07)

Dewhurst Didn’t Lift A Finger & Dismissed The Bill;  He Said The Chances Of That Bill Passing His Senate Were “Slim.” “Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, a Republican, indicated Wednesday that had the bill survived the House, its chances would have been slim in the Senate.” (R.A. Dyer, “Migrant Tuition Bill Derailed,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 5/10/07)

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