Is Texas Striving to Mimic California?
Among all of the tools governors have, the ability to veto bad bills is one of the most powerful. Usually this is wielded in a very limited way, and typically it is either to correct errors or unintended consequences not realized at the time of legislative passage of a bill, or at times a social issue will be at stake.
Usually, “the budget” bill, (in Texas alternating in origin between the House and the Senate, usually HB1 or SB1), is not vetoed, regardless of flaws. However, the budget passed by the 83rd Texas legislature is worthy of Gov. Perry’s veto pen.
This budget is far worse than “business as usual”. Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) pegs it at a whopping 26% higher than the one from just two years ago! This is clearly unsustainable even though their comparison is not truly “applies-to-apples”. (The reason for that relates to errors(?) made in the prior legislature resulting in several months’ bills not yet being “paid”.)
Ironically, a presentation I heard this past weekend in Austin, given by a state Senator who liked the budget, was the one most convincing that this budget is bloated beyond belief (or justification).
The presenter claimed that over 12 years or so adjusted for inflation and population, (AIP) the Texas budget had declined. Fair enough. However, the past few years, even AIP it has resumed its climb, and this budget, compared to the past biennium, contains well over 6+% in NEW SPENDING that the presenter did not even attempt to justify. The Wall Street Journal even disagrees with what happened in their “Texas Goes Sacramento” editorial recently. (They peg the apples-to-apples comparison at a whopping 16%.) Do we really want to emulate California, especially on budget issues?
The Rainy Day Fund was raided, another $500 million is just being written to poor in the form of one-time checks (via HB 1025), there is no appreciable property tax relief, there is no substantive improvement in school finance mechanisms—on and on and on. It is an embarrassment, whether the growth in big government is 6+%, 16% or 26%. A widely-circulated story has a Democrat senator asking Republican members why in the world they voted for the give-a-ways in HB 1025?
If there was ever a time when the Governor could do well by the Texas public, it would be to veto the bill(s) and send it/them back to the legislature in Special session. At the very least, the Senate Democrats would not have as much leverage. Republicans should not let Republicans spend like they are drunk.
You may call the Governor’s office and politely ask them for a veto of SB1 and HB1025 at (512) 463-1782. In the case of the budget, bigger is not better.