The first Fiscal Responsibility Index was released in 2007 as a tool to provide Texas taxpayers with the transparency needed for a system that was created to protect incumbent lawmakers. Before the existence of the index, no other organization had the sole purpose of serving citizens and not the Austin swamp by specifically working to hold lawmakers accountable. The index is now on its 8th iteration and has served Texas taxpayers for nearly 16 years.
Over that period of time not much has changed in the way that TFR administers the index. Transparency, honesty, and consistency have been our primary goals in serving citizens while scoring lawmakers based on their voting record. The public and lawmakers are still notified in advance on which votes will count toward the index and are also provided reasoning on why TFR supports or opposes each vote.
The index is a measurement of how lawmakers perform on issues that involve the size and role of government. The scores that lawmakers receive are an objective metric that reveals their “philosophy of governance” using their own voting records as the basis for their score. The index has revealed over the years that many politicians campaign as “fiscally conservative” but instead have a voting record that many times does not match their own rhetoric.
The average taxpayer simply does not have time to go through the thousands of votes that are taken on varying pieces of legislation, let alone read all of the bills and amendments, which are usually written in a confusing and deceptive manner to suppress voters from engaging altogether. Instead, TFR reads through thousands of bills and votes every legislative session, doing the hard work for citizens and in turn, gives them an easily understandable metric by which to judge the performance of lawmakers. This is the reason we exist, to assist and educate taxpayers on what their own representatives are doing in Austin while they are busy producing the tax dollars that fund that very government.
With the primary election season ramping up, voters are about to be inundated with campaign ads and mailers from incumbent lawmakers claiming to be courageous conservatives that advocated for small government on their behalf. It can be hard for voters to hear the truth through all the noise. Politicians can lie, but facts and objective measures never do. We want to remind taxpayers that we are always here to be a resource to you and want to encourage you to use the Index this primary election season as part of your research before you cast your ballot. It is the ultimate result of thousands of hours of labor and it begins and ends with taxpayers in mind.