PRESS RELEASE
From the Office of State Senator Dan Patrick

For Immediate Release
February 8, 2007

Contact: Court Koenning
(512) 463-0107 / (713) 876-4444

PATRICK: "SENIORS SHOULD NOT BE USED AS 'POLITICAL HUMAN SHIELDS' TO BUST THE SPENDING CAP"

Legislative Budget Board reports only $200-$300 million to include seniors; busting the spending cap would cost nearly $15 Billion

AUSTIN -- On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee approved SJR 13, a proposed constitutional amendment that if approved would explode state government spending by more than $15 Billion. To make the constitutional amendment to bust the spending cap more attractive, the resolution was written to add seniors and the disabled to the property tax cut measure of 2006. While senior's groups, like the AARP, are in favor of a property tax reduction measure that include them, they are opposed to being used as political cover for a bill that busts the spending cap.

According to the Legislative Budget Board, there will be $5 Billion in available revenue this biennium before the constitutional spending cap is triggered. Covering seniors in the property tax cuts would only use $200 - $300 million of the available money.

"In 2006, I was the first one to sound the alarm that seniors and the disabled were left out of the property tax 'cuts,'" Patrick offered. "However, leaders chose to come back and fix it later rather than fixing it then," Patrick added. "Now we know they needed the senior's political cover to complete the tax shift," Patrick concluded.

"Information available to every member of the Legislature proves we do not need to bust the constitutional spending cap to provide property tax relief to seniors," Patrick commented. "We now have 200 to 300 million reasons why we don't need to bust the spending cap for seniors," Senator Patrick added.

The constitutional spending cap has been in place since 1978, and it limits state government spending to no more than the rate of growth in the state. The constitutional spending cap has never been exceeded since its adoption.

"Members of the Legislature should know if they vote for SJR 13, likely on February 13th, they will be making history," Patrick suggested. "They will be the first to ever break the constitutional spending cap, and under Republican leadership, unlucky 13 will prove to haunt conservatives," Patrick warned.

"The gig is up, our constituents know the 'great business and property tax shift of 2006' did not reflect a reduction in taxes collected or state spending," Patrick advised. "In fact, the reverse is happening. If SJR 13 and the proposed state budget is approved, the state will be spending 17% more in this budget than the last," Patrick commented. "The people who voted for me didn't want me in Austin to spend more of their money, but less. That is why I can't and won't vote to bust the constitutional spending cap," Patrick remarked. "Over the next few days, I will use my voice in the media and on the Senate floor to point out these facts," Patrick concluded.

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