Skip to comments.Conservative watchdogs file suit over state spending limit
Posted on 06/14/2006 7:42:39 PM PDT by YCTHouston
AUSTIN - The state's biennial spending limit is an artificial gauge of the economy that allows unconstitutional and excessive spending on state agencies and programs, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday by a conservative taxpayer watchdog group.
The constitution requires that the state budget not exceed economic growth. The Legislative Budget Board determines that limit before each regular legislative session, based on personal income of all Texans.
The limit for the current budget was set at about $56 billion.
But the group Citizens Lowering Our Unfair Taxes is arguing that personal income gives an inflated measure of the economy and should not be the determining factor. The higher number allows the state to "justify its high spending limits," said Edd Hendee, executive director of CLOUT.
"I welcome this, and any effort, to rein in out-of-control state spending," said Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, also an independent candidate for governor. "During the last six years the state budget has increased $44 billion. That is 44.75 percent during the last six years."
Because the board, led by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Tom Craddick, sets the limit rather than the Legislature, the group claims "legislators are evading their responsibilities, and the spending burden on Texas taxpayers just keeps growing and growing."
The 10-member board is made up entirely of elected lawmakers, but the director and staff are not elected.
The lawsuit notes that more than 90 percent of legislators do not serve on the board, which serves the fiscal policy and analysis needs of lawmakers, providing fiscal analyses for proposed legislation and other budget information.
Strayhorn, the state's chief financial officer, said the process is legal.
Defendants in the case are Dewhurst, Craddick, the LBB and the state.
The lawsuit, filed in Travis County, specifically asks the court to "establish a reasonable yardstick with which to measure the state's economy" and to force an open vote of the Legislature in setting the limit.
The lawsuit also asks that the court assess the spending in a new school finance tax structure that has been criticized by conservatives.
"In an era of rising property taxes and new business taxes, the Legislature has ignored Texas taxpayers' mandate for limited spending," Hendee said. "Instead, it has violated the Constitution to the tune of billions of dollars. CLOUT is confident that this lawsuit will serve as a wake-up call, forcing the Legislature to end its unconstitutional abuse of spending power."
Texas state budget lawsuit news...
Another article quotes freeper buddy Don Zimmerman
I'm a member of CLOUT. I support this lawsuit.
This is grassroots conservatism, partly arising from conservative talk radio, making a difference.
I haven't read the filings yet. But the summary of them indicates to me that the lawsuit has a pretty good chance.
Some folks in Austin are going to be pretty unhappy.
I think it's funny that Gramma came out in support, obviously trying to jump on the bandwagon.
I'm afraid a bunch of us are gonna hafta sue CA and A.S. over the state spending limit and some other things here in CA. Wish you were here!!! (grin)
More coverage and pics over at Lone Stone Times
They work hard for Texas taxpayers.
Heck, wish you were HERE!
I have been lookin around and kickin around at least spending partial years in the Ozarks. You know, like maybe the summers. I'm just not sure I want to live out of a motor home each summer.
I just can't bring myself to move away from this part of Northern CA. I just couldn't leave all my clientele. I have no plans to retire, or quit doin anything.
Hell... If I were there, you'd just put me to WORK and that's a dirty four letter word!!!
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