Texas towns cut budgets for police, firefighters but keep lobbyists

It was a summer of bare budgets in North Texas, with police officers, firefighters and librarians among those affected by public spending cuts.

One group that mostly avoided the chopping block: lobbyists. Several area cities and other public entities passed new budgets in which they maintained or increased spending on state and federal lobbyists.

Public officials argue that lobbyists help local governments make sure their voices are properly heard in Austin and Washington, D.C. But critics have long decried as wasteful the notion of taxpayer money paying firms to lobby higher levels of government.

"I think what they are really looking out for is what might threaten their ability to raise revenue," said Peggy Venable, Texas director of the conservative Americans for Prosperity. "I think that shows the irresponsibility of these city leaders."

Fort Worth, Arlington and Dallas, which all struggled with budget shortfalls this year, chose to maintain their current spending on lobbyists.

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