Yesterday I posted a report on Texas Public Policy Foundation’s testimony before House Transportation earlier this week, in which I questioned TPPF’s continuing advocacy for measuring the growth in state spending compared to an index of population growth plus inflation. Later, I learned that Michael Villarreal, one of the sponsors of the local option transportation bill that TPPF opposes, had challenged TPPF on the same subject at the end of Monday. TPPF had charts showing the growth in spending by local governments according to the same index. On the video of the hearing, Villarreal, in questioning TPPF’s Talmadge Heflin, said that the graph failed to take into account that the state had thrust many of its responsibilities on the local level, including transportation, indigent defense, and education. Heflin was also challenged on the use of the consumer price index as a measure of inflation (an issue that I raised in my original post). “The consumer price index measures the cost of butter, eggs, groceries,” Todd Smith said, noting that governments buy different goods. Taking up Villarreal’s theme that transportation responsibilities were being pushed off on local governments, Smith said, “My constituents face commutes of on toll roads that will cost ten to twelve dollars daily, five times a week, because the state hasn’t met their transportation needs.” Heflin’s response was that local areas made a choice to spend their funds on other things. Smith shot back, “This entire line of testimony is that the way we solve this problem is to cut spending.”
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