Search me, O God and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24
It is a relatively big day in legislative land. The preliminary budget is being released this morning. Let the games begin.
In reality, the preliminary budget is little more than a starting point for the rhetoric to begin. Like many other things here in Austin, we don’t know what the final bill will look like, but we can assured it will not be what they give us today.
Most people are confused about the budgeting process and believe it is merely a discussion about dollars and cents. In reality, the budget has little to do with money and a tremendous amount to do with our state’s resources and how we choose to allocate them. The allocation is pure policy. What do we spend the money for? Is that a legitimate expense for government to be making? Who gets what and why? Before you appropriate a penny, you should first determine the purpose. And, since the penny does not, in fact, belong to the legislators (it belongs to the people), there is an increased fiduciary responsibility to ensure that funds are spent wisely.
But, alas, that has not always happened. Our governments - local, state and national - have grown with the prosperity of the times until it has assumed responsibilities far beyond its original scope or purpose. Government has assumed the responsibilities of husbands and heads of households with welfare benefits to unwed mothers; parents with government education which seconds as child care and subsidized child care for students too young to enroll in school; and adult children with Medicare and Medicaid benefits to care for their elderly parents.
We are all asking others to pay for things which are our personal responsibility. And, one of the fears many law makers have in cutting the budget is that it will cause unemployment in those who we decide are doing things better left to someone other than government. Does that make doing the right thing a cold and heartless thing to do? Do you figure out a way to allow a “controlled crash,” backing off some, but not all the way? What will the political outcry be when the cuts in state government begin to hit the legislator’s constituencies? Will you understand if you do not qualify for all of the benefits currently available?
I don’t know the answers to all of those questions. But, I do know that my personal desire and my desire for our elected officials is that they do the right thing. And, that will only come about with the help of God. So, I pray today for the Texas House of Representatives;
Lord, search them and know their hearts; try them and know their anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in them, and lead them in the way everlasting. Amen.