My fellow Texans:
A recent study by the National Federation of Independent Business reveals something I think most taxpayers already knew: The cost of state government has risen sharply across America - including Texas.
Even when you adjust for the rise in inflation and the growth in the Texas population, state spending has increased by more than 48 percent from the mid-1980s to the end of the last decade.
Some newspaper headlines might have you believing that the state has less money to work with this budget cycle. But as a matter of fact, if the Legislature holds the line on spending at $58 billion as proposed by the House of Representatives, it would still represent a 66 percent increase in spending from the budget just ten years ago.
I suspect that if I asked you and your family if you could live within your means - if your income rose by 66 percent over the next decade - you'd certainly jump at the chance to prove you could.
As legislators in Austin continue the budget debate, I urge them to take the very same approach of Texas families and small businesses: Spend what you can afford and not one cent more.
Many representatives and senators have come a long way toward balancing the budget without raising taxes on you, your family or your business. I commend them for the hard work and encourage them to affirm their commitment to holding the line on spending.
Yes, it would be easy to keep spending what we have always spent and to raise taxes to support a growing spending habit in Austin, but that's not leadership - no matter how loudly big government proponents holler.
Texas families and the men and women who create jobs at our small businesses elected their leaders to invest in priorities, to limit spending and to keep taxes low.
I want to encourage legislators to continue on the course to fiscal responsibility and to heed the voice of people like you who not only want responsive government, but responsible government.