Texas is facing a $15-$27 billion budget shortfall and programs that pull on your heart strings are being slashed at every turn. Schools, jobs, and children and elderly services are all in jeopardy. The initial reaction by many is to tap into the states $9.6 billion Rainy Day Fund to fill the gap. Because if it’s not “raining” now, then when is it?
I think most people would agree that it is “raining,” but it’s raining a lot harder for the legislators that created the rainstorm.
It’s probably true that we would still be facing a budget shortfall this session if we had spent our money more wisely but we would be walking over puddles instead of consumed in a flood.
For years, members in the Texas Legislature have succeeded when they called for more programs and increased spending. From 2003-2009 the Legislature has appropriated $74 billion more, than if the budget was tied to population growth and inflation. The taxpayer’s money has been spent as fast as it has been coming in.
This is a cause and effect of politicians campaigning on the promise to bring more government spending and more government programs to their district. Now those who have spent our money to ensure their own re-election are facing a harsh reality; that their promises have outpaced the economy.
These politicians will now fight tooth and nail to continue to fund their programs, by raiding the Rainy Day Fund. Some legislator need to do this because government programs have become their platform and spending is their voice. In other words, government produces their relevancy.
And since relevancy is the key to re-election, expect the rhetoric to grow louder and the push to raid the Rainy Day Fund to grow stronger as the budget process moves along.
This is the reason we must keep in prospective why the Rainy Day Fund was created and be careful how we use it.