Texas Conservative Groups Urge Legislature to Cut Spending

Wednesday, 21 Mar 2012 07:18 AM

By Robert Engler

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A coalition of influential conservative groups is urging the state legislature to trim spending by at least $9 billion over the next three years by revamping teachers’ and state workers’ pensions and other budget-cutting measures.
 
Last year, the legislature closed a $27 billion deficit by putting in place programs suggested by the Texans for a Conservative Budget, a coalition of groups that believe the state should be more fiscally responsible, the Dallas Morning News reported Tuesday.

Among the suggestions made Tuesday, the coalition said lawmakers should eliminate or merge dozens of state agencies, and require bureaucracies and state colleges to shrink spending by 3 percent immediately and offer ideas for an additional 7 percent cut in the next two-year cycle.

“Taxpayers can no longer afford subsidies to the private sector,” said former state Rep. Talmadge Heflin, who heads the fiscal policy unit of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

To protect taxpayers from a California-style budget crisis from unfunded benefits like traditional teacher and government employee retirement plans, Heflin said Texas needs to move public-sector workers into defined-contribution retirement savings plans like 401(k)s.

Representatives of progressive groups and teacher associations, who attended the news conference, were quick to call the conservatives’ ideas short-sighted.

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