10 Principles for Texas
in the 21st Century
- Develop a better-educated workforce
- Direct more of every education dollar into the classroom
- Raise the bar on student performance
- Cut taxes in Texas
- Introduce competition into Texas government
- Improve government performance and accountability
- Reduce the size of government
- Bring common sense to regulations
- Use technology to cut costs and increase quality
- Return control to communities and individuals
State spending has skyrocketed over the last decade. From 1990 through 2001, spending increased by more than 131 percent—an enormous increase considering that our State’s population rose by just 23 percent over the same period.
Today, the bill is coming due.
The biggest reason we have a problem is because we didn’t have any fiscal tools in place to prevent it.
I have a plan—“Returning the Favor”—to direct any surplus revenues back where they truly belong—in the pockets of Texas taxpayers—and to provide economic security to our state for times when we face a true crisis.
Any surplus would be split in half between the Rainy Day Fund (Economic Stabilization Fund) and the Returning the Favor Fund. The Rainy Day Fund is only to be used in a true emergency. And God help us, after September 11, we now know what a true emergency is.
The “Returning the Favor” dollars will finance a new sales tax holiday (in addition to our August sales tax holiday) during the following two Christmas seasons—with an expanded list of items eligible for tax savings. The length of the tax-free holiday would be determined by the extent of available surpluses.
As you know, I am a staunch supporter of the sales tax holiday. I love it because it is one time when hard working Texans keep their dollars in their pockets for their family’s priorities.
It may seem unusual to be talking of returning tax dollars to the taxpayers at a time of budget shortfalls. But today’s headlines mask the fact that the last Legislature started out with a surplus of nearly $3 billion and spent every dime available to boot. This plan will ensure that we do not fail in the legacy we leave to the next generation.
Our last sales tax holiday saved Texas families an estimated $42 million including both state and local sales taxes. If we had “Returning the Favor” in place last session, Texas families would have saved about 20 times that amount each of the last two Christmases, and we would have $2.5 billion in our Rainy Day Fund.
We Texans are made of strong stuff—we will come through this tough economy and emerge both stronger and wiser for the effort. Our bootstrap mentality has served us well. I believe it will continue to do so in the future.
My bottom line is the same as Sam Houston’s “Govern wisely—and as little as possible.”Sincerely,
Carole Keeton Strayhorn