GUEST VIEW: Government should live within meansState Rep. Brooks Landgraf was elected in 2014 to House District 81, which encompasses Andrews, Ector, Ward, and Winkler Counties.

One of the most important thing that our Texas Legislature does, and arguably one of the only things it must do, is pass the state budget that will fund essential services for the next two years. Without passing a state budget, state government offices would close on Aug. 31.
Our commitment to Texas children in our schools, colleges and universities must be reaffirmed as a priority in our state budget. We must adequately invest in our roads and our infrastructure to ensure that people and goods may be able to travel freely across our vast state. We must continue to fund border security initiatives, but we must hold the new administration in Washington accountable to funding those obligations. We must work toward investing in our state’s energy production to create jobs and expand our economy.
And we must do those things, and many others, without raising taxes or fees. We must pass a balanced budget that does not jeopardize the future of our state, but we cannot ignore the pressing challenges that need investment because that would threaten our state’s future more than anything.
For example, in comparison to the House recommendations, Senate Bill 1 cuts $2 billion in health and human services funding, $1.5 billion in public education and $690 million in higher education. That does not include the additional $2 billion in cuts proposed in other areas.
In short, local public education and health would suffer. I know that our state should operate like every parent does at home. It should live within its means. But it should also be efficient with the limited means at its disposal.
The Economic Stabilization Fund, often referred to as the “Rainy Day Fund,” is expected to reach $12 billion in savings by the end of the upcoming budget cycle. This savings account is funded almost exclusively through severance taxes paid by oil and gas companies. As a result, the Permian Basin accounts for the wealth the state has in the Rainy Day Fund.
As a fiscal conservative, I have to question why we impose a tax on the oil and gas industry if that revenue is kept on the sidelines in unnecessarily high amounts. Texas taxpayers know better than the government where to spend their money, either in reinvesting in their industry and employing people or giving back to their communities.
In my view, it is theft for the government to confiscate taxpayer dollars without ever intending to use them for a legitimate purpose.
As a truth-in-taxation issue, we should be clear. Taxes taken from Texans should be appropriately used or returned to the taxpayer.
I’m working right now to deliver this common-sense message at the Capitol.
God bless Texas.
State Rep. Brooks Landgraf was elected in 2014 to serve House District 81, which encompasses Andrews, Ector, Ward, and Winkler Counties. Landgraf resides in his hometown of Odessa with his wife, Shelby, and their daughter, Hollis Rose. He works as a cattle rancher and practices law at the firm of Todd, Barron, Thomason, Hudman & Baxter, P.C. in Odessa. An Eagle Scout, Landgraf is also active in several local nonprofits.