Keeping promises at all costs

Mexia News Editorial

Republicans in the Texas Legislature campaigned on the promise of providing more tax relief to Texans. For once, lawmakers are determined to keep a campaign promise no matter the cost.
Sometimes promises are foolish and delivering on them can be dangerous.
The state senate is proposing a plan that would cut property and business taxes a total of $4.6 billion. The house of representatives is promising a similar figure when its budget writers are done.
There are also a number of bills submitted that would restrict local governments when it comes to how much they can raise in local tax revenues.
But not even all Republicans are on board with this proposal, meant to please the masses while ignoring the dangers of such action. Two Republicans on the senate budget committee have questioned the plans alongside Democrats, warning that lawmakers should be more cautious with the promises and ensure the cuts do not create a shortfall or endanger needed funding.
Republican Senator Kevin Eltife of Tyler said in committee meetings that the legislature must first ensure transportation needs are funded, education monies are in place and adequate and the state meets its pension fund obligations.
Currently, the state's pension fund debt is growing by $500 million per year, a problem seen in other states that is creating chaos today.
The Texas Department of Transportation's $5 billion annual shortfall is a well-documented problem as well, yet Republicans continue to fly the banner of lower taxes while ignoring the questions about these and other problems.
Paying less in taxes is as popular as wanting more candy when someone holds a handful out in front of us. But the smart person recognizes when too much candy is a problem and not a blessing.
Property taxes in Texas are $1,557 per capita, the 15th highest in the nation, but Texas is one of only seven states with no income tax and by far the largest and most costly to run of those seven.
Are we going to cut taxes until we are left scratching our heads and wondering why nothing can be paid for? Being leaders means looking at needs and obligations as well as popular spending cuts. Will these same legislators be around in 10 years when our infrastructure is in worse shape and our education standard has continued to drop?
Will they have an answer to these problems? Or will they simply say, “We gave you what you asked for”?
We need our legislature to lead, and to make tough budget decisions, not just the popular ones. Let's think about the future for once, and not leave Texas worse off down the road than it is today.