With the legislative session underway in Austin, Texans will once again face crucial questions about how to prioritize our spending. The difference this time is we face a budget surplus, rather than a shortfall. It’s a testament to the low-tax, less government regulation and litigation economic model that has made Texas the envy of the nation.
The LoneStarState has led America in job creation for several years, at one point accounting for 40 percent of all jobs created in America during the recession. We’ve seen Dallas, Houston and Austin thrive while Detroit slowly becomes a ghost town. We’ve seen California businesses flock to our state. We’ve seen Texas reinvent itself as a high tech powerhouse when a few decades ago we were known only for oil and cattle.
Texas quite simply works, and it’s not by accident. It’s a deliberate product of decisions that have been made in the decade since Republicans took over both houses of the Legislature for the first time since Reconstruction. Have those decisions been perfect? No. Could we have done even better? Sure.
All Texans, regardless of party, want to see Texas continue to be a great place to live, work and raise a family. But while we may agree on the destination, we disagree on the roadmap to get there. Republicans believe in the intrinsic value of the private sector and the free enterprise system, whereas Democrats place that same emphasis on growing our government. Republicans want to limit the scope of local, state and federal government control over our daily lives. Democrats seek to expand power and control by these entities and look to them for solutions to our problems.
Our state and nation face real problems, and expanding the role of government is a seductive shortcut to getting things done.Economies are built on fundamental rules that you can’t bypass with government action. That’s why government stimulus fails in the long run, but the freeing up of markets unleashes their potential for growth for years to come.
With a budget surplus this session, Democrats will call out like Chicken Little that the sky is falling and that we have to spend more money to stop it. I won’t disparage the argument. We can always have a healthy debate about our priorities. That debate will make us stronger in the end.
But to abandon those principles that have kept Texas’ economy the strongest in America would be foolish. Our budget surplus isn’t because we taxed too little, it’s because we’ve experienced economic growth that wasn’t there before, which is directly attributable to our own fiscal discipline. While the federal government is tottering on fiscal cliffs, Texas has retained top credit rankings from Moody’s Investor Services and Fitch Ratings. And our economy has thrived.
In the 2013 legislative session, Republicans are once again guided by three core principles: 1) respect for the taxpayer; 2) focus on the core functions of government; and 3) ensure Texas is prepared to meet the challenges of the next 20 years.
The differences between the Republican and Democratic approaches are clear and fundamental, and the real, practical effects of those policies are evident and inescapable. Texas has the strongest economy in America precisely because of Republican-led, strong fiscal policies, and we need to stick to the solutions that have served us well.
In Texas, we are fundamentally changing the role of government to get by with less from our government, not because we don’t want to solve our problems, but we recognize that a rising tide ultimately lifts all boats. There is no problem we face, as a state or nation, that can’t ultimately be solved by a little honest economic growth. And in Texas, we’ve built the model for America.
Rep. Linda Harper Brown (R – Irving) represents District 105 in the Texas House of Representatives.She also serves on the Executive Committee of the Texas House Republican Caucus.