Last week, the liberal Texas Tribune — which just announced they are partnering with a George Soros backed, left-wing news group out of New York — published what they billed as a bombshell investigation regarding the state’s Legislative Budget Board (the LBB), claiming that I was “letting the state’s budget agency fall apart.”
My response to the story was, “Absolutely!” Although it would have been more accurate if they had reported that I am “re-shaping and downsizing” the agency. While I served in the Texas Senate, and since I was elected Lt. Governor in 2014, I have fought to keep state budget growth at a minimum, to shut down programs that weren’t needed, and to reduce regulations and eliminate red tape so that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.
While there are many good people who work at the LBB and do their jobs well, in the past, some LBB staff began to push the state budget agency in a liberal direction. The LBB expanded to nearly 150 employees in the last several years. They did not always provide a work plan or budget to the Legislature for review to justify spending and staffing levels. The lawmakers Texans elected to be accountable for state spending had little control over hiring and firing or the direction and accountability of the agency.
For over three years, the former speaker would not meet with me to discuss these issues. Since the Speaker and the Lt. Governor have equal say in the matter, I could not unilaterally replace the director or change the direction of the staff unless the speaker agreed — and, of course, he never agreed. The former LBB director resigned after the speaker stepped down, which was not a surprise and created the current vacancy at the top of the agency.
The Texas Constitution does not give responsibility of the state budget to a group of Austin-based non-elected officials. The mission of the LBB staff is to provide accurate numbers so that I and the elected state senators and representatives can write the state budget. Somewhere along the line — whether intentionally, by liberal bureaucratic drift, or at the direction of past leadership — some staff at LBB began to think it was their role to tell lawmakers, who were elected by the people, what programs should be funded and how taxpayer dollars should be spent.
I stood up against the bureaucracy and I will continue to stand up to them going forward. The Texas Constitution and our conservative principles are both clear — at the end of the day, it is the legislature that is responsible for the state budget, not staff.
You elected me to office because I share your commitment to a lean and efficient state government. I am very proud of what we have accomplished since I have been in office. We have increased efficiency, reduced waste and kept budget growth at or below the rate of the increase in population times the rate of inflation. This has kept our economy strong and allowed us to focus on our priorities. We have passed over $6 billion in tax cuts, while also meeting the needs of a fast growing state.
Speaking of the budget, there has been some misinformation out there. Let’s take a quick look at the actual numbers after adjusting for almost $19 billion for Hurricane Harvey recovery, which was predominately federal funds, and nearly $6 billion in cuts for taxpayers.
The first budget I oversaw as Lt. Governor was in fiscal year 2016-2017. The average annual budget growth was 2.8%. The second budget I oversaw as Lt. Governor was in fiscal year 2018-2019. The average annual budget growth was 3%. In the budget passed in the most recent legislative session for fiscal year 2020-2021, the average annual budget growth was 1.4 percent — we project actual growth will be 2.5%.
Keeping budget growth low is key to keeping the Texas economy strong so businesses can continue to grow and create jobs.
Tornado Devastation in Dallas
I visited parts of Dallas last week following the tornado and other severe weather that overwhelmed North Texas. I saw the destruction first hand and it was devastating. The tornado left a trail of damage, causing widespread power outages, overturning cars and ripping apart homes. Governor Greg Abbott has issued a disaster declaration and recovery efforts are continuing. Please keep these North Texas communities in your prayers as we determine the rebuilding steps that will come after the clean-up is completed. Our hearts go out to all those who were impacted by this awful storm.
Remembering Sutherland Springs
Today marks the two-year anniversary of the horrific mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. I got to know many people in that wonderful community following the tragedy, and I will never forget how their faith and prayer helped them in the early days of that awful time. They were believers who overcame those very hard times with unity and strength. I have seen this same strength in other Texas cities. Texans do not stand down when we are attacked. We stand up for the God that we love. The heart of faith in the Sutherland Springs community tells the story of God’s grace and mercy — and continues to be an inspiration to us all. Jan and I pray for the continued healing of those affected by this senseless act of violence.
Election Day in Texas!
Today was Election Day in Texas and across the nation. Polls are closed now, and early voting indicates that most of the proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution will pass. Click here to see tonight’s election results.
Tonight’s election results are a great sign for Texas Republicans. While the Democratic Party is pushing socialist candidates in 2020, Texas voters soundly rejected the idea of ever establishing an income tax in the Lone Star State! This is a huge defeat for pro-income tax Democrats and all the Texas liberal groups that worked against Proposition 4, as well as their allies in the media — virtually every newspaper in the state. When it comes to an income tax, voters loudly said NOT NOW, NOT EVER.
I am proud to be your Lt. Governor. Thank you for your continued support and for all that you do for the great state of Texas. Feel free to forward this email to your friends and family who may not be on our email list — they can also click here to sign up for future updates.
Lieutenant Governor of Texas