We are half way through the 82nd Texas legislative session and things are moving quickly.As a member of the committees on Corrections and Government Efficiency and Reform, I've had the opportunity to drill down into state government for greater efficiencies on behalf of Texas taxpayers.As a member of the Policy Committee for the Republican Caucus I have a voice on the direction Republicans will be taking on important legislation.I was sent to Austin to help put our fiscal house in order and the legislation I have put forward this session reflect my commitment to that principle.
The first step is to make our state budget more easily accessible for taxpayers and lawmakers so we can more easily determine where our dollars are being spent.Since 1993, the state budget has been formatted in such a way that even those with advanced degrees have difficulty navigating it.It's called "strategic budgeting" and it obscures the actual cost of state agency expenditures in favor of broad objectives and long-term strategic visions.Fiscal responsibility requires we have a simple and transparent program-by-program accounting of state government.I have introduced HB 2804 which moves us from a strategic budgeting format to a line item format.This will make state government more transparent and offer more opportunities to identify waste, fraud, and abuse.
I firmly believe that taxpayer dollars should not be used to support illegal activity.That's even more true in our current fiscal environment where every dollar is being scrutinized carefully.I was surprised to learn that Texas spends millions of dollars every year on college scholarships and grants to those who are in the state illegally.Texas is one of only two states still engaged in this practice.That's why I've introduced HB 1387 to eliminate state grants and scholarships to illegal aliens.
Unfunded Mandates on Schools
As educators will tell you, the increasing cost of public education is due in large part to unfunded state mandates on schools that turn teachers into government compliance officers.I have introduced HB 3463 which repeals several mandates affecting school districts and modifies others to give districts greater flexibility.This legislation will save our school districts valuable staff time and dollars.You can read more about my agenda for refocusing our priorities on Texas classrooms here.
I am also working on legislation that allows Texans to vote on whether to opt out of ObamaCare without incurring penalties; reforms of the process state agencies follow when they purchase from outside vendors; and identifications of general cost-savings, efficiencies, and consolidations throughout state government.Like-minded members have joined me in my effort to change the culture in Austin toward one that is more accountable and fiscally responsible with your money.As we move forward with the 2012-13 budget, you can be sure I will be working hard at every turn to wring inefficiency out of state government.