Twice in one week, citizens raising their voices forced tax-and-spend legislators to back down.
Last night, the Texas House was slated to vote on a massive hike in vehicle registrations. Lots of new money and higher costs for you, but without reforms to a broken spending system. (Earlier this week, plans to raid the Economic Stabilization Fund were stopped dead in their tracks.)
Let’s be clear: transportation infrastructure, like water, is critical to the lives and prosperity of all Texans. Because they are so critical, we cannot allow legislative spend-meisters to frivolously and inappropriately allocate our dollars inefficiently and ineffectively.
Moderate GOP State Rep. Drew Darby of San Angelo went to the microphone and arrogantly lectured his fellow House members to have “courage” and support his legislation. (I didn’t know it took “courage” to pick Texans pockets rather than prioritize spending.)
After nearly an hour of debate, Mr. Darby withdrew his legislation rather than face a certain defeat. So much for having that “courage”…
In an angry speech, the Straus leadership shill decried the influence of “forces outside the (House) chamber” for derailing his legislation.
Take a moment to think about that statement: Outside forces prevented career politicians from getting their way. Those outside forces are grassroots people like us!
Our form of government, a democratic republic, REQUIRES active participation from the citizens to be successful. The elected officials are supposed to represent the values and wishes of the people and work within a framework which is fair and just for everyone. Why are they upset when their tricks to rob emergency funds are thwarted?
To Mr. Darby’s way of thinking, taxpayers are an “outside force” getting in the way of his big-spending cronyism. Or, as Dustin Matocha put it in a post last night, Mr. Darby “hit a roadblock” and the wheels came off his foolhardy plan.
Legitimate plans to properly fund transportation exist, but House Speaker Joe Straus and his leadership cabal refused to let any of them move. In fact, those bills died at midnight last night under the Rules of the Texas House.
While Texans have been successful this Session putting the brakes on the most egregious expansions of government, there have been almost nothing in terms of substantive reforms for legislators to take home proudly. From guns rights to social issues to fiscal reforms, precious little seems destined for enactment. The Straus team keeps killing clear taxpayer priorities – like enacting strict constitutional spending limits and zero-based budgeting.
Under Joe Straus and his lieutenants, like Calendars Committee Chairman Todd Hunter of Corpus Christi and House Administration Chairman Charlie Geren of Fort Worth, those reforms haven’t been allowed to go forward.
Even with $8 billion in new revenue, Ways & Means Committee Chairman Harvey Hilderbran of Kerrville and Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Pitts of Waxahachie couldn’t (or, more precisely, wouldn’t) find room for substantive tax relief.
When the legislative leadership holds top spending priorities unfunded until the end of the session to make it hard to stop budget growth, we should call it what it is: blackmail.
With a near-supermajority in the House, it simply shouldn’t be such a struggle to get good reforms forward. Or, for that matter, to stop bad bills and tax hikes.
As Sullivan points out in his message above, citizen involvement is very important to the legislative process. Although we have made an impact so far in preventing the worst bills from going through, we need to do more. This is the goal and mission of North Texas Citizens Lobby.