Texas Senate leaders on Tuesday announced another round of efforts to change the way the state determines its two-year spending limit, and keep tax cuts from counting toward the constitutional cap on spending.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick joined state Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, at a Capitol press conference to announce legislation that would not allow the state's budget to grow faster than population growth plus the rate of inflation.
State budget leaders in December pegged the state's economic growth over the next two years at 11.68 percent, based on the projected rate of growth in Texans’ personal income. That means state spending cannot exceed $107 billion for the next biennium, leaving several billions of dollars in state coffers.
Hancock said basing economic growth projections on personal income is “a false measurement.”
“Individual income typically grows at a faster rate than the state’s economy,” he said.
Hancock’s Senate Bill 9 and Senate Joint Resolution 2, assigned low numbers as a sign of importance, would also exempt tax cuts from counting towards the spending limit. That would allow Republicans to provide billions of dollars in tax relief without having to vote to exceed the spending limit.
The proposed constitutional amendment changes the number of votes needed in both houses to exceed the spending limit from a simple majority to a three-fifths majority.
Last week, Patrick endorsed legislation by lead budget writers Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, and Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, the chair and vice-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, respectively, that exempts both tax cuts and the repayment of state debt from counting towards the spending limit.
“We’re looking at doing some big and bold things,” Patrick said on Tuesday. “We did not come into this session to continue to do things the way they’ve been done for the last several decades.”