With so many tweets like this from Governor Greg Abbott, it is easy to document the remarkable economic growth Texas is experiencing. Many companies are moving here from out-of-state, contributing to our thriving small business success. Our business environment is the envy of other states across the country.
As good as it seems, Texas’ jobs boom will eventually go bust if we forget that free market solutions, smaller government, and fewer regulations are the best engines of prosperity. Our elected officials must address what then-Governor-Elect Greg Abbott referred to as the California-ization of Texas, or we will lose the amazing progress we have made and follow California down the path to crippling taxes and burdensome regulations.
Texas does not have a state income tax, but property taxes continue to soar due to increasing values, as local governments increase spending. They use the additional revenue to pay for more regulations and programs. The franchise tax burden on our small businesses continues to rise and requires mounds of paperwork. Paying for the ever-accelerating growth of government and regulations squanders hard-earned taxpayer dollars.
Do we really need a state agency for virtually every river in the state? Does the State have to regulate accountants when there are federal laws that are already in existence? Doesn’t this just add more paperwork? We have more boards and councils than I can count. It is time to fully activate the Sunset Committee’s reviews system and use the sunset process.
Texas has public utility commissioners making billion-dollar business decisions that favor regulation, too often contrary to free market principles. A good example is blocking one of the nation’s most stable and best-managed utilities from buying Oncor, Texas’ largest electric utility, out of bankruptcy because they’re from out-of-state. They also prevented the Texas-based Hunt Group from purchasing and managing Oncor. Leaving an organization in bankruptcy since 2014 certainly isn’t the best way to put that company in a position to once again grow and create more jobs.
The amazing part about the proposed Oncor merger is that it had already been approved by the relevant federal agency during President Obama’s tenure. So, one can make the case that there are unelected bureaucrats in Texas that are more regulation-friendly than even the former Obama Administration.
Our current and former Texas leaders deserve respect and admiration for the jobs-friendly climate they fostered. However, we must diligently work to diminish the regulatory burden if we want to avoid the same mistakes California made.
I call on our state officials to remember the mantra of great leaders before them: government is for the people. It is not for us citizens to fund a mushrooming payroll that leads to more and more job-killing regulations. Keeping the focus on government spending will keep our taxes lower and allow Texans to continue prospering in the years ahead.
Robin Lennon is founder of Make Austin Listen, and president and co-founder of Kingwood Tea Party.