This commentary originally appeared in the Austin American-Statesman on May 19, 2015.

There’s much to accomplish during the remaining weeks of the 84th Texas Legislature.

Fortunately, if legislators hold state funds — and all funds below population growth plus inflation, to provide a conservative budget and follow through on significant tax cuts — Texans will be the winner this session.

Instead of talk at the Capitol about how to spend every penny, it’s refreshing to hear legislators discussing almost $5 billion in tax cuts.

There’s no doubt about it; this is a historic moment in Texas.

Before the 84th Texas Legislature started in January, the Texas Public Policy Foundation began working to provide clarity to the Texas budget so taxpayers can better understand how their dollars are spent.

After carefully reviewing the state’s budgets during the last decade, we published The Real Texas Budget that shows the 2014-15 budget of roughly $202 billion is a 63 percent increase since 2004.

By comparison, population growth and inflation — key metrics for Texans’ ability to fund their government — increased by a cumulative amount of only 45 percent during the same period.

Clearly, the budget has grown faster than is necessary to meet the basic needs of the state. Not only this, but Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar noted that the state looks to have a $7.5 billion surplus at the end of the current budget period.

The excessive increase in the budget and a large surplus led to two major calls to action to safeguard Texans from higher taxes and fees in the future: Slow budget increases and cut taxes.

Using The Real Texas Budget as a guide, the foundation published The Conservative Texas Budget. This publication argued that all funds and state funds portions of the 2016-17 budget should grow no more than population growth plus inflation of 6.5 percent for the last two fiscal years.

The foundation joined with 14 other members of the Conservative Texas Budget Coalition to support this maximum growth rate before the legislators convened along with a host of other policies that limit the footprint of government.

So far, both the Senate and the House versions of the total budget fall below this maximum. The Senate increases the budget by 4.6 percent to $211.4 billion and the House increases it by 3.8 percent to $209.8 billion.

Both versions are now with the Conference Committee — five Senate and House members — that’s working to resolve differences between the two chambers’ versions of the budget before sine die on June 1.

At this stage, we are encouraged that both the House and Senate versions of the total budget meet the needs of Texans while reserving funds for substantial tax relief. This is the best combination to enhance liberty and prosperity in Texas.

Knowing where your taxpayer dollars go is important, which is why the foundation remains steadfast to provide more clarity to the Texas budget.

We will also pay close attention to the growth of general revenue funds as legislators have the most control of these taxpayer dollars and feed into growth in other areas of the budget. At this point, the House’s version is up 9.9 percent and the Senate’s is up 12.9 percent.

After fully funding the needs of Texans, it’s important that the Legislature pass a final budget that’s within population growth plus inflation while providing meaningful, long-lasting tax cuts, preferably by eliminating the business franchise tax.

At the Center for Fiscal Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Heflin is the director and Ginn is an economist.