The Texas Legislative Guide was designed and developed by Becca Aaronson, Emily Albracht, Daniel Craigmile, Annie Daniel, Ben Hasson and Ryan Murphy for The Texas Tribune. The Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that promotes civic engagement and discourse on public policy, politics, government and other matters of statewide concern.
The Texas Constitution says the government cannot grow faster than the state's economy. That sentiment has translated into a spending cap that is confusing and complicated, as it only covers a portion of state spending.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick backed proposals this session to expand the spending cap to cover the entire budget, while at the same time exempting two specific kinds of spending — tax relief and paying off debt — from the cap. Republicans also proposed changing the way the cap is calculated by basing it on the combined growth in population and inflation, which tends to be lower than the metric that the state uses now: the estimated growth in Texans’ personal income.
But the spending cap remains unchanged after this session. Legislation that passed through the Senate and the House would have tightened the rules guiding how much future state budgets can grow. But House members and senators couldn’t settle their differences over the legislation.
Legislators saw no need to break the cap, which requires a simple majority vote in the House and Senate. As a result, they passed a budget that left billions of dollars in revenue on the table.
Updated: June 1, 2015
- Agreeing on the budget
- Reforming contracting and procurement
- The fight over the spending cap
- Reducing property taxes
- Cutting margins taxes
- Budget fallout from school finance lawsuit
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