News

Sign Up For Updates

Newsletter: Protecting Texas Taxpayers

The state of Texas has increasingly contracted with private companies to carry out government services in recent years. These arrangements can often make sense because certain expertise and efficiencies that exist in the private sector cannot be found in government.

But the state agencies that issue contracts have a responsibility to protect taxpayers’ interests. Recent headlines have shown that agencies sometimes ignore their own protocols in the contracting process, or perhaps they lack the expertise to vet contracts thoroughly. Neither is acceptable, and that’s why reforming the contracting process at state agencies is a major priority for the Texas House in our current legislative session. 

We’ve learned in recent months that some high-profile agencies, including the state Health and Human Services Commission, have not handled major contracts properly. What we don’t yet know is how pervasive such problems are. Last week, the House Committee on General Investigating and Ethics asked 11 key agencies to provide information about a variety of contracts issued in the last three years. This inquiry will illustrate the frequency of contracting problems while helping the Legislature prevent future abuses.

Texans expect their elected representatives to provide effective oversight of state agencies, especially when billions of dollars in contracts are at stake. The committee’s request is an important step – but just one step — toward making sure state agencies are using taxpayer resources properly.

Providing Tax Relief      

The strong performance of the Texas economy, combined with our commitment to fiscal discipline, will allow the Legislature to provide tax relief this session. In fact, legislation to reduce taxes was recently voted out of a House committee and will soon arrive on the House floor.

This week, the House is scheduled to consider two proposals that would provide more than $4 billion in tax relief. House Bill 31 would reduce the state’s sales tax, while House Bill 32 would lower the franchise tax assessed on businesses. Each of these bills would provide a tangible reduction in the tax burden placed on Texans and help the private-sector economy continue to grow.

Improving Public Education

Another important proposal under consideration is House Bill 1759. This legislation would significantly reform our school finance system, giving public schools additional resources and distributing those resources in a more efficient way. The legislation would also reduce the amount of money shared between school districts through the “Robin Hood” funding system.

Our system of paying for public education is once again facing a court challenge. But many of us in the House believe that we don’t have to wait for judges to act in order to reform that system and help schools better educate their students. House Bill 1759 is the product of months of discussion and work by a bipartisan group of legislators, and it represents a real opportunity to improve education in this state.

If you want to provide feedback on these issues or any others, please contact me at joe@joestraus.org.