February 15, 2011
The unprecedented look that Texans are getting at the budget process this year hasn’t been pretty. It’s become obvious that Texas faces not only a budget deficit, but also a deficit of accountability for the problems that put the state in this position.
Clearly, reform must include a much longer, deeper and more public look at the state’s fiscal picture.
My bill would create a commission that will tap Texas’ vast base of business expertise to fix the state’s finances. The commission should recommend approaches that fundamentally reform the debt, diversions and deception that are so prevalent in the budget and the budget-writing process. It should flush out any wasteful spending and recommend ways to fund the state’s biggest priorities, from schools to seniors to security. It should figure out ways for government to be more transparent and make information more readily available.
And the commission should look to put Texas in the position that many of the group’s members strive for in their own businesses – to make smart, efficient investments that will ensure the state remains economically competitive in this young century.
The commission would include legislative budget writers, members nominated by the Metro 8 Chambers of Commerce (representing the Chambers in Texas’ biggest cities), as well as folks representing some of those most affected by the budget – teachers and schools, doctors and hospitals, and our state employees.
These leaders would bring a badly needed outsider’s perspective to the budget. They would get the time to confront the lack of transparency and accountability at the heart of Texas’ budget problems. And they could break the cycle of budget writers papering over information, patching whatever holes they can, and perpetuating the structural flaws that prevent legislators from truly preparing Texas for the 21st Century.