Texas House Votes to Cut Its Own Funding
Published: Brenham Banner-Press
Friday, January 14, 2011 1:47 PM CST

AUSTIN — State Rep. Lois Kolkhorst has joined fellow House members in voting to cut 10 percent from their office budgets.

Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) has also taken the budget-cutting a step further, announcing she will voluntarily turn back to the State Treasury five percent of her Public Health Committee budget from last year and that she will not accept her $600 a month salary for the next two years.

“We are seeing spending reductions at almost every level of government, so my office will practice what it preaches. We will not ask any state agency, school district, college or university to do something we as lawmakers are not willing to do in our own offices,” Kolkhorst said.

Kolkhorst is signing her monthly paychecks back to the Treasury.

“It’s a small amount of money, but it has a larger message and I hope my colleagues follow suit,” she said. “People who pay taxes want the government to do more with less, and I agree.”

Bracing for a tough legislative session, Kolkhorst said she is helping to create the first-ever Tea Party Caucus for Texas lawmakers.

The Tea Party Caucus will consist of over 50 members of the Texas House and Senate who plan to enlist Tea Party groups across Texas to help craft legislative ideas. Kolkhorst will serve as one of 15 board members. The board will be chaired by Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston).

“Texans crave more input about the laws that touch their lives. That’s why the Tea Party Caucus is an idea whose time has come,” Kolkhorst said. “I’ve been fighting foreign toll road giveaways, big government land grabs and higher property taxes for years before we called it a tea party, so this new caucus fits me well.”

The caucus within the capitol has worked with Tea Party organizers to form an advisory board that will meet directly with lawmakers.

“The vision is to have the Tea Party board members develop a legislative agenda and for the caucus to help them move it forward wherever possible,” said Patrick.

To join the caucus, legislators agree to uphold the fundamental Tea Party principles of limited government and lower taxes, as well as pledge to defend the U.S. Constitution as written by our founders, and defend the sovereignty of Texas. Members also sign and support the Texas Conservative Coalition Pledge with Texas.

“The ‘TEA’ in Tea Party stands for ‘Taxed Enough Already,’” Kolkhorst said. “The anger about unchecked illegal immigration isn’t going away, and neither is the issue of property taxes. This new Tea Party Caucus will keep lawmakers here in Texas focused on what really matters: good jobs for Texans, a sealed Mexican border and lower taxes and health costs.”

A frequent speaker at local Tea parties in the area, Kolkhorst has been recognized for her fiscal policies and fights against tax increases by conservative groups such Americans for Prosperity, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, the Texas Eagle Forum, the Texas Association of Business and the National Federation of Independent Business.

“Nobody wants our local Tea Party groups in the area to be captured by paid lobbyists and hired guns in Austin and DC. Lawmakers would rather hear directly from local tea party groups and that’s what the caucus will do,” Kolkhorst added.

Kolkhorst said she will launch her own legislative agenda, including bills to deal with illegal immigration and aggressive property tax appraisals. She also said she plans to create new tools to fight public corruption, racketeering, drug cartels and immigrant smuggling, and protections for the public against private toll road contracts.

As the chair of the House Committee on Public Health, Kolkhorst said she’ll be filing several new bills to lower health care costs, create more price transparencies and efficiencies in medical care, and push for measures to protect medical privacy rights in the wake of new federal mandates. ###

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