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May 12 2011

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Funding priorities first

Recently the House passed a budget that I voted against because it appropriated almost half a billion dollars to corporate welfare that I believe should be going to our schools, the weak among us and the elderly.
Perhaps that was not popular with some of my fellow Representatives, but voting to send money to corporations in Houston or Dallas does not serve the school children of Gregg and Smith Counties. Voting to subsidize the film and music industry and commercials for Fortune 500 companies in Austin does not help our disabled here at home in East Texas.
Then, this week, when the Senate sent their version of the budget back to the House, I moved to instruct the committee that reconciles the two versions of the budget to reallocate $140 million that was slated for the Emerging Technology Fund—a corporate incentives program—back to our schools, libraries, and nursing homes.
I am happy to report that 70 other Representatives agreed with me and my motion passed.
The Texas Constitution makes it “the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for . . . public free schools.” But nowhere does the Constitution require us to give money to special interests.
Every decision to give money to one program is a decision not to spend it elsewhere. The Legislature is often faced with the dilemma of having to choose between two initiatives with only enough funding for one. Those are the hard decisions that we are elected to make. So, we must keep our priorities straight.
It is imperative that we fulfill our commitments to our children and the elderly here in East Texas and across the state.
For too long we have allowed politicians to pass ill-advised legislation because no one was willing to stand up for what’s right for fear of ridicule and retaliation. As a result, civil government these days lacks what Thomas Jefferson said were the essential qualities of “wisdom and frugality.” Instead it is known for arrogance and extravagance.
The state budget in 2004 was $118 billion. The budget estimate for the current biennium is $187 billion! That’s a 58% increase while population and inflation have gone up just 34%.  All the while, the cost of living for taxpayers has also increased.
Prosperity is the fruit of wise and frugal decisions of individuals, businesses and government. So the choice before us is either to reduce government spending overall and get back to essentials or to increase taxation. I support the former. That’s what families and businesses have done and that’s what government must do for our future prosperity.
Jefferson was right—good government is wise and frugal. So what does that mean for the tight budget and our present Legislature? We must focus on promoting the general welfare and fulfilling our constitutional obligations, and otherwise leave people free and responsible for their own actions.
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Wise Words
“. . . only by refraining from measures which they would not wish to be used on themselves can the members of a majority forestall the adoption of such measures when they are in a minority. — Friedrich A. Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty, 1960.

“Do not put your hope in princes. . . .” — Psalm 146:3

Thanks for your continued prayers.

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