February 21, 2007
So long, spending cap

That sound you heard yesterday was the spending cap being officially busted.

It took a GOP majority and the need to subsidize billions of dollars in promised local school property tax relief for the Texas Legislature to vote for the first time to break a constitutional cap on state spending.

Funny, isn't it? All that nonstop blather about how Democrats are big spenders, and it takes a Republican trifecta to bust the constitutional spending cap for the first time. No wonder Governor Perry has tried to claim that spending to buy down local property taxes isn't really spending and thus shouldn't count against the cap. The attack ads pretty much write themselves, don't they?

I won't bother getting into the details here. You already know what I think of this, and nothing has changed about that. Just remember, if at any time during this session any Republican says we "don't have the money" to fund some vital service at an appropriate level (or at all), over $6 billion of general revenue has been taken out of play to fund this property tax folly. We do have the money, but the Republicans insisted on spending it on property tax cuts instead.

One thing: The final vote on this sucker was 95-50 in favor, but the real vote, as with the Speaker's race, was during the amendments:

It was seen as more palatable for GOP lawmakers to tie the vote to break the cap to property tax relief, an idea with broad Republican support, rather than to general spending. A Democratic push to delay the spending-cap vote until the budget is considered lost 79-68.

As noted by the Texas Observer blog, that was an amendment by Rep. Craig Eiland. Note how Tom Craddick inserted himself into this debate, even casting a vote, which Speakers normally do not do. Very kinder and gentler, our Speaker. Thanks again to everyone who voted for him, we really appreciate it.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 21, 2007 to Budget ballyhoo

I heard it all the way up in Denton. I expect there might be some tersely-worded letters about this.

Posted by: Josh Berthume on February 21, 2007 1:58 PM