Texas Bill Would Cap Bureaucrat Salaries


The House of Representatives Chamber of the Texas State Capitol | Image by Moab Republic/Shutterstock

A bill submitted in the Texas House of Representatives seeks to prevent government employees at the municipal, county, and state levels from making more in salary than the governor.

State Rep. Brian Harrison (R-Midlothian) filed legislation that proposes to cap government workers’ incomes so that they “may not exceed the amount of the salary set by the General Appropriations Act for the governor.”

If passed, the stipulation would apply to anyone working for “a county, municipality, special district, school district, junior college district, or other political subdivision of this state.”

Currently, Gov. Greg Abbott receives a salary of $153,750 per year in taxpayer funds. The governor’s chief of staff earned $265,000 in the fiscal year 2021, according to a report from the governor’s office.

Rep. Harrison, speaking with The Dallas Express, explained the motivation for filing the bill.

“The main concern for me, as an elected official, is the custody and stewardship of hundreds of thousands of Texans’ hard-earned tax dollars,” he said. “Especially in periods of high inflation and economic uncertainty.”

“I’ve got constituents that are genuinely struggling to figure out how they’re even going pay the property taxes to be able to stay in their home,” he added. “And taxpayer-funded salaries — I think it’s objectively true — have skyrocketed absolutely out of control.”

“I think it’s very intuitive for most Texans that the governor has got more staff, more authority, more responsibility than any other government public servant in the state of Texas,” Harrison expressed. “So, why in the world are we paying people with a fraction of his responsibility four times what he makes?”

“The bill really came from a position of wanting to do everything I can to make sure that my constituents … are not being taxed out of their home so that government bureaucrats can get rich on their backs,” he concluded.

So far, Harrison contended, he has yet to receive any pushback on the bill.

“Everybody I’ve talked to loves this idea,” the representative claimed. “I think the only people that even might be worried about it are people that are getting rich off the backs of the taxpayers who are being taxed out of their homes.”

When asked about the potential objection that a salary cap might make it difficult for municipalities to attract and retain good people, Harrison suggested that a salary cap would actually make it easier to find quality candidates.

“These are the same municipalities and political subdivisions that want to talk all day long about how they need to get the best public servants and that the people who come to these jobs are here to serve the public,” he said. “Well, which is it? Are you here to get rich, or are you here to serve the public?”

“It’s actually a vicious cycle,” Rep. Harrison explained of bureaucrats’ ballooning salaries. “Every time one city or county or school raises all their salaries, the neighboring county, city, or schools got to raise their salaries.”

“And then it’s a cycle that just never ends. I’m actually solving that problem,” he insisted.

Before becoming a state representative, Harrison had served as the chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which, according to his biography, is “the largest government agency in the world with a budget of over $1.4 trillion and 25 divisions, where he led a staff of over 85,000 employees.”

This background further informed his perspective, he indicated to The Dallas Express, noting that “people run cabinet agencies for a fraction of what some of these small city bureaucrats are making — and I’m talking cabinet agencies with trillion-plus dollar budgets.”

In Dallas, many city officials make substantially more than the governor. Embattled City Manager T.C. Broadnax recently survived an attempted ouster and earned a raise in the process, increasing his salary to roughly $423,000, as reported by The Dallas Express.

“And does the city manager of Dallas have more responsibly than the governor of Texas?” Harrison asked. “I know, I think there is only one answer.”

Nevertheless, some have urged for more taxpayer funds to be provided for government employees, with state-level agencies requesting at least $500 million for salary increases, according to the Texas Tribune.

Responding to The Dallas Express, Dallas’ human resources director Nina Arias, spoke against the bill, explaining, “This legislation would suppress salaries artificially (disconnected from the job market and local economic conditions) and severely hamper the City’s ability to attract and retain quality government officials.

“Most of the City leaders would currently be above that threshold and, since we benchmark our salaries with the government sector, that would also be the case in most Texas municipalities,” Arias continued.

“In addition to having a hard time recruiting for positions that are specific to government, we would also have a more difficult time attracting and retaining talent that is looking to transition from the private sector knowing that their salaries (current and future) would be limited by the salary of the Texas Governor,” she concluded.

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1 month ago

Makes sense to me. Government employees should not make more than the Chief Executive of the State.

Reply to  Brenda
1 month ago

Elected officials should not make more than the average of their constituents after tax income. The unelected should not make more than 90% of the salary of the person to whom they report.

There! Instant term limits on both!

1 month ago

boy,this will piss -off a big crowd