Thursday, the Texas House took up the state budget and laid out over 400 amendments.
Many aimed to grow the size of government with pet projects. Some aimed to scale it back.
One conservative leader, Rep. Jonathan Stickland, offered an amendment to defund a state program aimed at preventing tobacco usage.
Democrat Rep. Tomas Uresti leapt to the back microphone and began defending the multi-million dollar annual program. His line of questioning went so far as to imply Stickland has no problem with teenage smoking.
The exchange got a little heated, and at one point the Speaker slammed the gavel to restore order.
Stickland responded that he believed prevention efforts were noble, and that the legislature had brought many good ideas into the public conversation, but that not all of them were worthy of taxpayer dollars.
Rather, he argued, the proper role of government is to defend individual liberty, not spend money trying to change people’s behavior.
Throughout the exchange, Stickland repeated the conservative call for “personal responsibility.”
Before time expired on the debate, Stickland would finally explain, “I believe taxation is theft.”
Though his party controls 95 of the 150 seats, his amendment would fail in the end 115-29.
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