Former President Ronald Reagan once quipped that, “government is like a baby: an alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.”

Funny how true those words still are.

Bungling what could have been a defining moment of fiscal conservatism this session, the Texas Senate instead allowed the Texas Department of Transportation sunset bill House Bill 300 to sail through with revised local option transportation tax and fee language attached.

The bill, as is currently written, allows local governments to impose any combination of three new taxes and fees while requiring virtually no measurable performance objectives.

Oh, and never mind that the state still has yet to end diversions, or that most local governments spend significantly more than the growth in population plus inflation, or that some communities still have unused sales tax capacity that could go to pay for transportation – these “facts” seemed irrelevant compared to government boosting its bottom line.

Though discouraging, the Senate’s decision is not the final say.

HB 300’s next stop – if it advances at all – is a House/Senate conference committee, where five members from each chamber will duke it out over the differences between the two versions. If common sense prevails, taxpayers may pull out a win just yet and force government to live within its means. If not, refer back to quote above.

– James Quintero