Everywhere one stops to discuss the Texas legislative session now well underway in Austin, the conversation almost immediately turns to the state’s enormous projected budget surplus and what to do with it. The Texas Taxpayers and Research Association (TTARA) has called it “a once in history cash bonanza” and it’s hard to find a better description. Based on the analysis from the TTARA of data from the State Comptroller of Public Accounts and after accounting for almost identical spending bills from both House and Senate totaling $130 billion, there will be an unobligated excess of over $42 billion for the next biennium, truly a once in a lifetime event. And as has been noted by these authorities, that number doesn’t include the state’s “rainy day fund” that is fully funded under current law at $27 billion, which means that the projected surplus is available for one-time strategic investment. So how should it be invested?
As you can imagine, proponents of every major project from every corner of the state are lining up for presentations on the merits of their particular pleading, and I can think of many such needs and opportunities that are worthy—from education to pension funding to various infrastructure needs to health care and on and on—but for me they all are secondary to what I believe is the one use that best addresses and invests in our state’s human resources—a major tax refund and tax cuts for individuals and business. After all, it’s their money, and I believe that millions of taxpayers acting independently are better suited to productively employ this one-time bonanza than most of the experts that will be called upon to advise the legislators.
What do you think?