St. Mary's Law Journal


Michael Weiss


The Texas Tax Reform Act, an amendment to the Texas constitution, undertook to create and enforce spending limits. The Texas Government first followed the spending limits in the 1982-1983 biennium. The threat of veto from Governor Clemments forced the legislature to adopt a budget below the limit. Unfortunately, Texas taxpayers did not see the savings of 1982 repeated in subsequent years. Meaning, the amendment, which passed by an eighty-four percent majority, failed in its purpose for limiting the government growth and spending. The noncompliance of the LBB is in contravention of the people’s will and the laws established to set spending limits. To quantify the damage done by ignoring the constitution, the State of Texas plans to spend $1 - $1.5 billion over the LBB’s highest estimate of personal income growth. Despite the rate of economic growth for the next biennium fiscal year, all the budgets under consideration seem to exceed this amount significantly in proposed spending. The Texas Congress passed the constitutional amendment limiting spending in 1978 by a vote of eighty-four percent. The act’s initial effectiveness has worn off. Today, the Texas Tax Reform Act is ignored but still vital and enforceable. For the next biennium, the Texas Tax Reform Act is likely to be violated at almost every level of the budget process. Taxpayers may redress many of these illegal actions of state officials. The attorney general is also required to address this problem. Texas law provides an array of statutes to enforce violations of its budgetary law. Indeed, the attorney general or other prosecuting attorney may have criminal sanctions available to ensure compliance. The people of Texas spoke in 1978 and demanded restraint in government. That demand can still be enforced.


St. Mary's University School of Law