Press Release from District 7 State Rep. David Simpson
Last week, the Texas House took up its 991 page budget for the 2016-17 biennium. After 17 hours of continuous debate on 399 pages of amendments, HB 1 was passed out of the House around 5:30 in the morning. Now it will be taken up by the Senate. The bill authorizes $209 billion of appropriations. The spending, however, has just begun. The bill will be re-negotiated by the conference committee. Historically, when the House and Senate get together to agree on a plan, they end up with a product larger than either body passed on its own. There also will be other large spending bills.
Before I focus on what is lacking in the budget, I want to acknowledge some real progress. The chair of Appropriations did a much better job of being open about the budget, keeping legislators informed along the way. Also, the bill made funding more available for some essential elements of government. There is increased funding in the base bill for roads, education and border security. Even so, funding is insufficient to pay overtime of state troopers and aircraft for border security operations as requested by the Department of Public Safety.
Although there is much good in the budget, I voted NO to oppose:
(1) The rapid growth of state government at approximately 10% for the second consecutive biennium, exceeding the growth of population and inflation.
(2) The inadequate funding of border security and the Department of Public Safety.
(3) An 8% expansion of corporate welfare, which now tops $1 BILLION for the biennium.
Finally, my vote was to protest the budget process, which is more or less pre-determined prior to session, often obscure, and much like a shell game. The worst part is yet to come. Late in the session changes will be made by the conference committee, which legislators know violate the House rules but are often unwilling or too weary to fight.
Despite all this, there is hope! But it is not in civil government (Psalm 146). It is freedom used responsibly. It is in the Lord Jesus Christ who lived a perfect life and then gave it on the cross to pay the debt of sin that we never could pay (Romans 6:23). Through Him we may be reconciled to God and enabled by grace to love Him and our neighbor.
Many Texas communities are currently drowning in millions or even billions of dollars of debt due to the issuance of local bonds. Texas currently has one of the highest amounts of local debt per capita in the nation. Without micromanaging local entities, how do we address this issue?
One answer is to disclose to voters the long-term commitment they are making for themselves and their children when authorizing general obligation debt. To implement that disclosure I filed HB 134 which requires that ballots for bond proposals simply reveal how much the state or the local entity already owes, as well as how much new debt would be added.
HB 134 received a lot of support at the Elections Committee hearing last week when my office responded to complaints that such requirements would make the ballot language lengthy with more incomprehensible legalese. We requested a committee substitute that makes it clear that all that is needed is a simple “fill in the blank” form. The financial ramifications of bonded indebtedness should be presented in plain sight, not hidden in lengthy, legal mumbo jumbo.
Bills Up for Public Hearings:
Several bills that I introduced will be heard in committees this week.
If you come to testify at the hearings, please stop by E2.502 if you have time or need a place to rest or wait.
When I draft legislation, my main focus is to protect liberty, to seek justice for those who have been wronged, and to pry government’s hands off of our lives so we can enjoy and be responsible for our own God-given freedom.
As you watch my bills go before committee, and as we vote on hundreds of bills, please remember that we must replace fear with facts and trust individuals with freedom until they harm their neighbor. Fulfilling the oath to uphold the Constitution is not easy, but it’s the right thing to do. It’s not about protecting government; it’s about protecting and restoring liberty and justice for ALL Texans.
Again, I welcome your input and covet your prayers. Thank you for the privilege of representing District 7 in the Texas House.
For Texas and liberty,