Perry: Texas should be able to return unspent revenue to citizens

posted at 3:51 pm on January 29, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

On the (all-too-rare, harumph) occasion that a particular state ends up with a budget surplus, that state might use the leftover money to pay down debt, add cushion to a rainy day fund, put down payments on infrastructure projects, and etcetera. Several GOP governors are currently looking into their respective states’ tax codes and revenue streams in an effort to encourage competition and economic growth, but Texas Gov. Rick Perry is adding to that competitive drive with yet another economy-boosting idea. Showing off his sense of fiscal discipline and an understanding that the private sector spends money more productively than the public sector, he plans to propose a constitutional amendment that would allow the state to return unspent revenue back to taxpayers. Via Fox News:

Gov. Rick Perry will use his State of the State address to call for amending the Texas Constitution to allow the state to return tax money it collects but doesn’t spend back to its citizens, according to an excerpt of the speech released to The Associated Press.

Perry, who is scheduled to deliver the speech Tuesday morning to a joint session of the Legislature, will tell lawmakers that he has “never bought into the notion that if you collect more, you need to spend more.”

“Today, I’m calling for a mechanism to be put in place so when we do bring in more than we need, we’ll have the option of returning tax money directly to the people who paid it,” the governor plans to say. “Currently, that’s not something our constitution allows. We need to fix that.”

The Texas economy is enjoying some great economic growth relative to many other states, thanks largely to their business-friendly policies and the ongoing energy production boom, but instead of using extra revenue as an excuse to grow the government bureaucracy and take on more projects, Perry is trying to institutionalize fiscal restraint and budgetary discipline — and it feels so good. Constitutional amendments in Texas require a two-thirds majority approval in both the state House and Senate, and there are enough sitting Democrats in the legislature that the proposal probably won’t pass, but Perry definitely has the right idea: The private sector spends money more productively and efficiently than the public sector. That is all.

That’s quite the contrast from the Obama administration’s constant mantra that still more government spending is always the best and inevitable answer. God bless federalism.


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