This commentary originally appeared in the Austin American-Statesman on June 2, 2015.

Let’s put the bottom line up front: The 84th Texas Legislature, both House and Senate, did an outstanding job in crafting a conservative Texas budget — and they and their leadership deserve our thanks.

The only thing that the Texas Legislature must do every session is pass a budget. This year the state was flush with cash from a robust Texas economy. That’s usually a danger sign that all the money will be spent, and then some.

Anywhere but Texas, that might be the case. Fortunately, by adhering to the pro-growth, liberty-fueling guidelines recommended by the Conservative Texas Budget coalition, of which the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) is a member, these fears weren’t realized.

Instead of emptying out the state’s coffers, the Legislature passed a historic $3.8 billion tax relief package while meeting the needs of the state with a conservative Texas budget and still left money on the table for a rainy day. This combination is a huge win for Texans, and it’s what’s needed to keep Texas the model that other states — and even other nations — hope to emulate.

We are indeed in a new era in the fiscal life of the Lone Star State — and that has consequences well beyond the governmental balance sheet. In passing a conservative Texas budget, the 84th Texas Legislature has laid a foundation upon which the future prosperity and happiness of Texas homes, communities and families will be built.

That’s not just rhetoric. Texas’ comparatively free-market, limited-government approach has yielded big dividends for Texans in the past several years.

The outcomes speak for themselves.

Many of those outcomes are economic. Since 2000, the growth rate of high-wage “good” jobs was higher in Texas than in the rest of the U.S. combined. Average private pay increased 76 percent more in Texas than in the rest of the U.S. from 2001 to 2013. In 2012, Texas passed California in tech exports. Individual health insurance premiums are lower in Texas than the national average.

And some of those outcomes are educational. In Texas, 62 percent of high-school graduates take the SAT, as opposed to only 50 percent nationwide. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Texas has the best overall scores among the five most-populous states in math for fourth- and eighth-graders. A full implementation of education-freedom and school-choice programs in Texas education would help immensely — and indeed, in the 84th Legislature those ideas got further than they have in any previous Texas legislative session — but for now, the Texas model does more good than not in securing a good life for all Texans.

All this happens because we have a state government — and a Texas Legislature — that usually does the right thing in keeping Texas a low-spending, low-tax, small-government state. The fruits of that outlook will ultimately be expressed in the big dreams and big achievements of the generations of Texans to come.

This happens within the context of the great changes happening in Texas — the increased ethnic diversity, the economic dynamism, the increased urbanization and the increased globalization — that are really the harbingers of the American future. What we see in Texas is not actually particular to Texas; instead, it is a look into the American future. That future is being built in Texas right now.

It’s small, conservative, limited government for a big, diverse and dynamic state. And it works.

Rollins is president of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.