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Groups Call on Texas Legislature to Pass Zero Growth Budget and Cut Taxes

(Central Square) — Fiscally conservative groups have called on the state legislature to pass a zero-growth budget and cut taxes to help inflation-stricken Texans after the state comptroller announced the state expects record $188 billion in revenue for 2024 25 bienniums and a surplus of $32.7 billion. Both are the first in the history of the state.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation said the historical revenue forecast should result in the largest tax cut in state history if the state legislature takes responsibility.

In announcing the historical projections, Comptroller Glenn Hegar urged lawmakers to “spend money wisely and prudently.”

But other groups say lawmakers need to cut spending and give taxpayers money back.

The unprecedented economic “windfall gives the next Texas legislature a historic opportunity to pass the biggest tax cut in Texas history,” the TPPF said in a statement.

“The 2023 Texas Legislature has a historic opportunity to provide Texans with real tax breaks using this windfall budget surplus,” TPPF’s James Quintero said. “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help people navigate the current cost-of-living crisis and set Texas apart from other states with taxes and spending.”

TPPF suggested Texas conservative budget with zero growth. If the legislature cannot pass a zero-growth budget, it proposes the following better alternatives: keeping the budget in line with historical population and inflation trends (12%) or keeping it in line with maximum population and inflation expectations (16%).

At these percentage levels, initial appropriation caps for the 2024-25 budget will freeze 0% growth to $245 billion, 12% growth to $274 billion, and 16% growth to $284.5 billion, it says. .

He also notes that these limits should be seen as “the ceiling, not the floor”.

Texas Taxpayers and Explorers Association president Dale Crimer said, “A historic surplus calls for a historic tax cut. The numbers suggest that Texas could have nearly $50 billion more than lawmakers are allowed to spend under state restrictions. Therefore, legislators should make tax breaks their top priority — taxpayers cannot be asked to pay the government money it cannot use.”

Texans for Fiscal Responsibility Proposed Texas Prosperity Planwhich also includes a budget without growth.

“The old metric of ‘population + inflation growth’ was a great reform, but it’s no longer relevant in the inflationary environment we’re in right now,” the post reads. “Containing spending this cycle will allow our bloated budget to rise another 12.3%. For a government that is already over budget, a budget increase of more than 10% is far from conservative.”

“Freezing the state budget at current levels is not only prudent as we head into a major economic downturn, but will also help eliminate property taxes by boosting the surplus by curtailing spending,” he adds. “It is imperative that the Legislative Assembly begin to reduce the size of the government if we plan to create a sustainable model. Increasing spending increases government, and cutting spending reduces it. We call on all lawmakers who call themselves conservative to advocate for a no-growth budget and allow excess dollars to benefit taxpayers across the state.”

Texans for Fiscal Responsibility also issues Financial Responsibility Index to help taxpayers understand how state legislators vote on bills relating to the size and role of government, the core budget, and free enterprise issues. The index does not measure voting results on social issues such as abortion or marriage.

According to the votes tracked in the index, most Texas legislatures, including most Republicans, are not financially conservative.

In 2021, out of 31 senators, 12 Republicans received A, B, and C grades. Two received A:Sens. Bob Hall and Bryan Hughes. Two received B grades: Brandon Creighton and Drew Springer. Eight got three.

Six Republican senators and all Democratic senators received an F.

Of the 150 members of the House of Representatives, more Republicans received an F for fiscal responsibility than a passing grade. The majority, 42, received an F; 34 received a passing score.

Ten Republicans received an A: Brian Slaton, Jeff Cason, Kyle Biedermann, Briscoe Kane, Steve Toth, Tony Tinderholt, Mace Middleton, Matt Schaefer, Terry Wilson and Cody Wasut.

Three Republicans received B grades: Cole Hefner, Jared Patterson, and Matt Shaheen. Six Republicans received a C; 15 received a D.

All Democrats received an F for financial responsibility.

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