Pressing the case for his potentially dangerous proposal to put tighter limits on state spending, Sen. Kelly Hancock of North Richland Hills noted this week that Texas voters are conservative.
Judging from last year’s election results, most Texas voters apparently are. But the relevant question revolving around Hancock’s proposal is not political philosophy. The relevant question is whether voters and the people they elected to Austin are short-sighted. Being conservative and being short-sighted are not necessarily the same thing.
Hancock’s proposal, however, is incredibly short-sighted. It wouldn’t have any effect on this year’s budget deliberations, but, if adopted, it could result in billions of dollars being cut from future appropriations for education and other public needs.
The Legislature and Texas voters approved a so-called “spending cap” in the 1970s, still in effect today, that limits increases in general revenue spending – about one-third of the total budget – to an economic factor based on projected increases in Texans’ personal income.
Hancock proposes to make the cap more restrictive, apply it to a larger portion of the budget (including federal funds) and require a three-fifths vote of both the House and the Senate to exceed it. The current spending cap can be exceeded by a simple majority vote.
Were Hancock’s tighter spending limit in effect today, it would cut about $19 billion from the Senate’s current, proposed budget, Eva DeLuna Castro, a budget analyst for the Center for Public Policy Priorities, told the Senate Finance Committee.
(And you can bet your pension that a large chunk of that $19 billion would come from public schools and universities.)
Fortunately, Hancock’s proposal is not in effect, at least not yet. The committee didn’t act on it this week, but the session isn’t over yet either.
As reported in The Dallas Morning News, Hancock said his spending limit would “reflect our modern economy and ideology.”
It obviously reflects an ideology, but, if adopted, it could devastate some school districts and send our future economy down the tubes.