Oil revenue is falling in Texas. The state depends on it to pay for state government.
Yet the bean counters in the Comptroller’s Office are being told by lawmakers — namely Lt. Gov.-elect Dan Patrick — that the state is not going to ease up on providing tax relief for Texans.
Comptroller-elect Glenn Hegar’s task is to provide the Legislature with an estimate of how much money the state will have to spend the next two years.
But those darn oil prices make these projections so very tricky.
Should the state keep cutting taxes when its revenue stream has been put in jeopardy by forces beyond its control? I don’t think that’s wise government policy.
That doesn’t deter Patrick and his tax-cutting allies in the Legislature. Patrick told panelists at a Texas Public Policy Forum gathering: “We expect to be bold and we expect to be big in tax cuts and then I’m going to trust my good friend here the comptroller.”
The state Legislature, populated by a super-Republican majority led by a TEA party faction that just cannot cut taxes enough — even if it puts important government services in jeopardy — ought to resist the temptation to keep slashing revenue just for the sake of slashing revenue.
I doubt seriously, though, anyone in Austin will follow that course. It’s politically popular in Texas to cut, cut and cut some more.
Good luck, Mr. Comptroller, as you prepare to deliver the bad news to our elected representatives.