Socialism on the Rise in Texas: An Examination of the Texas Budget

June 26, 2023
Bill Peacock
88th Legislative Session, Property Tax, Spending, State Budget

Executive Summary

The Texas Legislature is in the midst of a 20-year spending spree. Since 2003, the appropriation of state funds per legislative session has increased from $76.2 billion to $233 billion. Remarkably, 44% of that growth happened in 2023 alone. Of the $157 billion increase over the last 20 years, the recently concluded regular session of the 88th Texas Legislature is responsible for $69.3 billion.

Not surprisingly, the increase in state government spending has led to an increase in socialism in Texas. More and more of society’s resources (property) used to produce goods and services are owned or controlled by government. Several examples of advancing socialism in the Texas budget adopted in 2023 include the Texas Energy Loan Program ($5.0 billion), the Texas Broadband Infrastructure Fund ($1.5 billion), the Texas Water and the New Water Supply for Texas Funds ($1.0 billion), the Texas University Fund ($273 million), Electric Grid Debt Relief ($3.9 billion), and government-funded hospital construction ($2.3 billion).

Yet socialism does not work. It decreases, rather than increases, prosperity. This should not be surprising because it stands in opposition to God’s gift to us of private property as the most efficient and obedient way of fulfilling his command to us to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. If Texas and Texans are to prosper, we must turn back the increase of socialism by reducing the size of the Texas budget.

A Record Increase in State Spending

During its recently concluded 88th biennial regular session, the Texas Legislature adopted the largest spending increase in Texas history. The $233.3 billion of state funds appropriated by the Texas Legislature during its 2023 regular session was $69.2 billion more than was appropriated in 2021.* The previous record increase was $21.6 billion, set by the 80th Texas Legislature in 2007. The increase of 42% this session also beats the 80th Texas Legislature’s increase of 24%.

Looking back at the Texas budget over time, the Texas Legislature has been on a historic spending spree of state tax dollars and other state revenue for the last 20 years. In 2003, facing what was at the time a record budget shortfall, the new Republican-controlled Legislature exercised fiscal restraint and decreased spending of state funds by 3%. Since then, spending by Texas has skyrocketed. Over this period, spending of state funds has increased from $76.2 billion to the projected $233 billion. That 205% increase far outpaces the 65% inflation rate over the same period

Even more remarkable than the 20-year growth of state spending is the fact that 44% of that growth happened in 2023 alone. Of the $157 billion increase in total appropriations in a session since 2003, the 88th Texas Legislature is responsible for $69.3 billion.

Socialism’s Existing Foothold in Texas

To understand why the 2023 Texas budget is advancing socialism in our state, we must first understand what socialism is. Simply put, socialism is an economic system in which the government owns (or controls) society’s resources (property) and determines how they will be used to produce goods and services. This is opposed to capitalism, which is an economic system relying on private property, liberty in our labor, and free exchange in the production of goods and services. Certainly, the economies of Texas and the United States are not socialist to the extent the Soviet Union was but are clearly a mix of capitalism and socialism.

Examples of state and local government ownership of resources used in the production of goods and services in Texas include K-12 schools, junior colleges, and universities, roads, airports, seaports, coastal lands, forests, rivers, lakes, the water supply, and portions of the electric grid. While not as extensive as in some other states, these government-owned resources play a major role in the Texas economy.

The examples of state and local government control of resources, i.e., controlling what property is used for, what prices can be charged for goods and services, etc., are almost endless. They include land use regulations like local zoning laws and economic regulation of various markets such as insurance, energy and water, banks and securities, and transportation. Additionally, Texas governments seek to control production in the economy through subsidies, tax breaks, and other benefits, including local property tax abatements, grants to businesses through programs like the Texas Enterprise Fund and the Events Trusts Funds, workforce training, and subsidies for renewable and thermal energy sources that generate electricity for our electric grid.

Advancing Socialism in Texas: The 2023 Texas Legislature’s $233 Billion Spending Spree

As we learn in the Declaration of Independence, the primary purpose of government is to secure the rights of its citizens:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men …

Government spending that extends beyond securing our rights through the administration of laws, courts, police, and national defense is spending that increases a government’s ownership or control of the means of producing goods and services. Using Figure 4 to assist our calculations, out of the $69.2 billion increase in spending this session, perhaps $18.9 billion might be considered to be focused on securing our rights, e.g., $12.3 billion for property tax relief and $6.3 billion for public safety and criminal justice.

Figure 4: Major Biennial Spending Increases – State Funds 2021 to 2023

General Government Spending Increase$2.3 billion32.1%
Health & Human Services Spending Increase$8.3 billion23.1%
Education Spending Increase$9.2 billion12.4%
Judiciary Spending Increase$237 million24.5%
Public Safety/CJ Spending Increase$6.3 billion51.7%
Natural Resources Agencies Spending Increase$2.4 billion81.6%
Business & Econ. Development Spending Increase$4.2 billion17.8%
Regulatory Agencies Spending Increase$126 million17.4%
General Provisions Spending Increase$27.4 billionN/A
Legislature Spending Increase$79.4 million38.2%

The remaining $50.3 billion of the 2023 spending increase in the Texas budget will expand the Texas government’s control of the Texas economy, which as we have demonstrated above is already extensive. Figure 5 shows just a few of the many examples of expanded government control of the economy found in the Texas budget and other laws passed by the Texas Legislature in 2023. Just this brief list shows increased ownership, control, or manipulation of property and resources by the Texas government totaling $21.5 billion. There is no other way to accurately and honestly describe what this is except for a significant increase in socialism in our state.

Figure 5: Expansion of Government Control of the Economy in
the Texas Budget and Other Laws Adopted in 2023

Texas Energy Loan Program$5.0 billion
Texas Broadband Infrastructure Fund$1.5 billion
Texas Water and the New Water Supply for Texas Funds$1.0 billion
Texas University Fund$273 million
Electric Grid Debt Relief$3.9 billion
Hospital Construction$2.3 billion
Land (Park) Acquisitions$100 million
School Property Tax Abatements for Business$100 million
Texas Enterprise Fund$316 million
Increases in Education Spending$7.0 billion

Critiquing Socialism in the Texas Budget: A Biblical Perspective

Socialism gets a bad rap these days in most circles. Even most of those who advance socialism recognize this and deny what they are doing is socialism. This begs the question: Why is socialism’s abolition of private property such a bad thing? William Blackstone, in his Commentaries on the Laws of England, helps us understand the problem:

There is nothing which so generally strikes the imagination, and engages the affections of mankind, as the right of property; or that sole and despotic dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in total exclusion of the right of any other individual in the universe. And yet there are very few, that will give themselves the trouble to consider the original and foundation of this right. …

In the beginning of the world, we are informed by holy writ, the all-bountiful creator gave to man “dominion over all the earth; and over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” This is the only true and solid foundation of man’s dominion over external things, whatever airy metaphysical notions may have been started by fanciful writers upon this subject. The earth, therefore, and all things therein, are the general property of all mankind, exclusive of other beings, from the immediate gift of the Creator.

A major problem with socialism is that it stands opposed to God’s design for how the world is supposed to work. Private property is both the most ethical and efficient way to create, sustain, and increase wealth for the simple reason that it is the means that God gave us for doing so. Socialism simply doesn’t work very well and the consequences to humanity are very harmful.

However, an even more fundamental problem with socialism is that it seeks to enthrone the State, rather than God, as the Ultimate Authority in this world. As the state becomes all things to all people—providing for education, housing, healthcare, jobs, and retirement, God is no longer needed. This is exactly the effort we see being made in the biblical account of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9):

When we grasp the true intention of the human city builders [of Babel], it is clear that their project is not as innocent as it may first seem. On the contrary, what we have here is an account in which all the God-given abilities of human beings are deliberately focused on creating a society where God is redundant. Confident in their own capacity to meet every challenge, the inhabitants of this human city view the Creator as irrelevant. (Desmond, Alexander: From Eden to the New Jerusalem)

How Socialism in the Texas Budget Distorts of the Image of God in Man

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’” – Genesis 1:26

“Then he said to them, ‘Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.” – Matthew 22:21–22

Of course, Caesar is now dead, and his image is no longer on our money. But that doesn’t mean that Jesus’ instructions have no meaning for us today.

Yes, George Washington’s image is on our money, which reminds us that we do have an obligation to pay taxes. But this does not mean the power to tax is unlimited. The government has no right to tax us until all, or even most, of our Caesar money is gone. As government continues to take our money to do more than secure our unalienable, God-given rights, it is attempting to twist Jesus’ words and implant its image on us so that we owe everything to Caesar and nothing to God. This is why early Christians were persecuted; they refused to acknowledge Caesar as Lord.

Texans must similarly rebuff the deification of the state today. When we are being taxed so that the government is spending money on efforts to supplant the image of God in man with the image of Caesar, we must fight back. Public education is the most widespread example of this; our children are told throughout their 12-20 years of public education that God is irrelevant when it comes to geology, biology, mathematics, language, economics, and most other things.

Another example is government’s denial that God created man and woman through enshrining into law and practice the agendas of homosexuals and transexuals. In this, Texas is better than many states, yet our tax dollars are being spent to support school and public libraries with books promoting these ideas and that hold “family-friendly” Drag Queen Story Hours.

Increased taxes and government spending are the means through which the government seeks to undermine the many gifts and talents we have because we are created in God’s image. On the other hand, with no money, government would have little ability to mar God’s image in us. We should seek to honor the image of God which we bear by reducing both taxes and government spending.

How Socialism in the Texas Budget Disrupts the Fruit of the Labor of Our Hands

“The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” – Genesis 2:15 ESV

“Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.” – Psalm 128:1–2: ESV

God created humans to work. However, as the Texas budget grows, our state and local governments often deny us opportunities to work through taxes, regulation, and welfare. In this way, they also deny us the blessings of work as we no longer eat the fruit of the labor of our hands, but of someone else’s.

Consider the plight of many black teenagers. Trapped in a cycle of poverty through welfare, relegated to failing public schools, and with limited employment opportunities because of the minimum wage, heavy regulation and high taxes on businesses, and unchecked immigration, black teenagers have an unemployment rate of 11.7%, more than three times the national 3.7% rate.    

But black teens are not the only ones who are harmed through government policies; the unemployment rate for white teens is 9.1%. More than this, the country’s 3.7% unemployment rate also understates the lost opportunities to work for many Americans. The rate is so low because many Americans have simply given up looking for work; the labor force participation rate has fallen from 66.4% in 2003 to 62.6% today.

Both unemployment and underemployment can also interfere with our relationship with God and our fear of Him. As can much government work and government-funded and supported work that is in opposition to God’s plans for how government and the economy are supposed to operate. Texas’ oversized government and rapidly increasing budget is not good for us and our walk with God.

How Socialism in the Texas Budget Interferes with
Our Work of Being Fruitful and Multiplying and Filling the Earth

“And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” – Genesis 1:28 ESV

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.’” – Revelation 21:3 ESV

A lot of people are familiar with Genesis 1:28, which is often called the “cultural mandate.” It may be, though, that many of us don’t spend much time reflecting on exactly why we are to fill the earth, subdue it, and have dominion over it. Yet we should consider this. What, we might ask, is the purpose of the awesome accomplishments of human civilization such as cities, roads, homes, farms, factories?

Both Genesis and Revelation can help give us some perspective on this question. Alexander Desmond provides his thoughts:

Interpreted along these lines, the opening chapters of Genesis enable us to reconstruct God’s blueprint for the earth. God intends that the world should become his dwelling place. Remarkably, this blueprint is eventually brought to completion through the New Jerusalem envisaged in Revelation 21 – 22.

Just like the garden was the dwelling place of God with man, we are building a civilization and cultivating the earth to prepare the entire world as the dwelling place of God with man for eternity. However, because of sin and scarcity, our effort to fill the world so that we can live here with God raises the question: How can we fill the earth with enough people to subdue it without starving to death or killing each other?

Sin means that we are always going to be troubled with violence. But if we can have enough food to feed everyone, enough clothes to clothe everyone, and enough shelter to shelter everyone so that we can live in relative prosperity, it will certainly help reduce the violence. How do we do that, though?

The good news is that God in His wisdom did not leave us helpless along these lines. He gave us private property as the most efficient way to increase and allocate the labor and resources needed to keep us alive and well. This is the big problem with the socialism in the ever-expanding Texas budget. As it continues to undermine the institution of private property, it will also undermine our ability to provide for ourselves and the world’s growing population.

There was something in the Bible that some people call socialism. This was when people sold all that they had and gave it to the church and others: “And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:45 ESV). But this was not socialism, it was charity, voluntary gifts from the proceeds of selling private property to benefit others, which we might describe as coming from an attitude of “All Mine is Yours.” However, the socialism on the rise in Texas today might be described as coming from an attitude of “All Yours is Mine.” In Texas today, property is increasingly no longer private; instead, it is taken from one person and given to another either physically or through regulation or taxation. This forced redistribution of wealth is, of course, an ethical and moral problem—theft. But it also becomes an economic efficiency problem. When God’s design for economic activity is disrupted, so is His plan for increasing our wealth. Not only does wealth decrease under socialism, but strife between people will increase as more people fight over fewer goods and services.


Socialism is a natural consequence of sin. Yet many well-meaning Texans do not recognize socialism when they see it or understand that the rapidly expanding Texas budget stands in opposition to God’s design for how humanity is supposed to thrive economically and spiritually.

There are two paths forward to reversing the growth of socialism in Texas. One is to use political science, economics, long-standing conservative principles, and simple math to explain to Texas the problem with the rapidly growing Texas budget. The other is to apply the whole counsel of God in the Bible to the public policy challenges we face today.

Both are necessary. To eliminate socialism from Texas, we need to change the minds of Texans to help them see its folly. But changing the minds of Texans also requires a change of hearts. And that requires the Word of God.

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