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No shortage of available budget cuts

By Weston Hicks | 3 years ago

Texas Public Policy Foundation found billions in cuts that were ignored last biennium. They began with two simple premises: that services must fit available revenues and that raising revenues would be a short-sighted cooking of the golden goose. Texas is in comparatively strong shape during a national recession. Our reasonable revenue burden is a big reason people and businesses consistently vote with their feet for Texas.

Here is a sampling of suggested cuts:

  • Change the state pension system from defined benefit to defined contribution. The private sector has dramatically moved away from the unsustainable defined benefit model and government should do the same.
  • Cut 25% of administrative workforce in education. Non-teacher personnel numbers have unjustifiably ballooned in Texas over the past few decades. Without firing a teacher, we could save $5 billion per biennium by cutting back to past levels of non-teacher personnel.
  • Eliminate the Commission on the Arts. This is not a core function of government. In film and music, Texas culture is thriving apart from government subsidies. Plus, the Commission has ballooned to house 17 different commissioners. This Commission is representative of many other government entities that well-meaning liberals have added to our government over the years. Past a good sales pitch, these agencies and commissions routinely under-perform in their core mission. They expand amorphously to take on more and more cost and responsibility that is even further from legitimate government functionality than the original quest. They are luxuries that responsible adults must put aside in a a recession for the greater good.
  • Eliminate GR-dedicated funding for the Texas Emission Reduction Program. This program has a difficult time establishing success in controlling ozone forming pollution. The bulk of it’s purpose, to bring cleaner burning diesel engines to Texas, is now federal law. It has grown rapidly in scope. This elimination would save almost a quarter of a billion dollars.
  • Require $75 health benefits contribution from state employees. This would save over half a billion dollars and serve as a middle step towards health savings accounts, which have proven to bring down costs to individuals and the state in other states like Indiana. Health Savings Accounts would also improve health care choice.

These are just a sampling of budget cuts recommended by the Texas Public Policy Foundation last biennium. They also recommended zero-based budgeting and spending limits, two commonsense cornerstones of responsible budgeting for everyone, everywhere, not just government. Changes like these are realistic and necessary if Texans are to step up to the plate in making our state work while preserving freedom and prosperity during a recession.

—Several TPPF papers with budget control recommendations: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5