The Harris County government has seen an explosion in its size, complexity, and budget over the previous four years. In 2018 our budget was $4.47 billion. This fiscal year we will surpass a budget of $7.2 billion. But even these numbers underestimate growth, when in 2020-2021 the county brought in $7.05 billion but spent $7.6 billion. Despite a nearly 50% increase in the size of the county’s budget, the voting majority on Commissioner’s Court decided that still wasn’t enough and voted to spend more than it brought in. What’s happening at the national level—growing debt and size of government—is happening in our own backyard. It’s time to put an end to it. One of the reasons I’m running for Harris County Treasurer is to restore fiscal sanity and accountability.
The size of Harris County’s budget is only matched by an increase in its growth and complexity more generally. This is happening at both the county and national level. The national administrative state has grown so large and complex that it can no longer be held accountable by the citizenry or elected officials. The Federal Register currently has 71,222 pages of complex codes and regulations which is an increase of 2,104 pages from 2019. There are currently more than 2.1 million civilian workers in the federal workforce across more than 400 agencies. Congress has become dependent upon administrative agencies to interpret and enforce the laws it passes while leaving it to the courts to interpret whether the agencies are operating in accordance with congressional consent. At each step of the process the citizens get further removed from the process. This is exactly what’s happening at the county level as well.
On December 14th there were more than 300 agenda items on the agenda before commissioner’s court. This growth in the size of the agenda is a frightening trend as it reveals a propensity toward growth. The agenda for government growth reflects the majority’s ambition to permeate our lives and businesses in a manner inconsistent with liberty and self-government. Government growth is inimical to a free and independent people.
The Democratic majority on the commissioner’s court have done everything it can to remove accountability and oversight regarding budget matters. For instance, the Director of Budget Management received a salary of $280,000 in 2020 and a $550 per month car allowance. This is an office beholden to the majority on commissioner’s court and not the voters. The Director of Budget Management is an appointed position. There is no reason to have a budget office separate from the Harris County Treasurer. The Treasurer can, and has, performed every function under the Director of Budget Management. The reason for removing these responsibilities from the Office of the Treasurer is because the Treasurer is responsible to the people thus making the Treasurer independent of the commissioner’s court. The creation of the Director of Budget Management is a way for the Democrats on commissioner’s court to give themselves more authority over the budget and be less accountable to the people.
Similarly, the Democratic majority on commissioner’s court recently created the position of County Administrator. This is another appointed position completely insulated from the will of the voters and accountable only to those who appoint him. The County Administrator is an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy that reduces accountability and increases complexity.
Given the size and complexity of our government, voters have little hope of exercising the necessary oversight. I am running for Harris County Treasurer in order to push for a more streamlined structure and a reduction in spending so that voters have greater control over their lives and greater control over their government. The Harris County Treasurer needs to be a dedicated public servant who is willing to dedicate themselves fulltime to fighting corruption and government bloat and using the office to keep taxpayers informed and represent their interests.
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