“We are disappointed to learn that Texas will likely resort to using its rainy day fund this early in the legislative session. Legislators in both the House and Senate should heed Speaker Straus’ commitment to continue looking for budget savings that will reduce any draw on the rainy day fund.
“Having partially depleted the rainy day fund for the current biennium’s deficit, it is imperative that the Legislature not use any more of it to help fill the next biennium’s shortfall. The Governor today reiterated his pledge to not sign a 2012-13 budget that includes rainy day funds-and Texans will expect him to keep that pledge.
“Those who seek to empty the fund because it is raining today have not checked the long-range weather forecast. Our recent report, Final Notice: Medicaid Crisis, projected that Texas’ Medicaid program would require between $10 billion and $15.6 billion in additional state funds in the 2014-2015 budget cycle, the low estimate representing the cost if ObamaCare is repealed. Thus we can reasonably predict that economic pressures on the Texas state budget will be even more severe in the next legislative session.
“It is the duty of those elected to government to govern-and it is the duty of those who elected them to hold them accountable. Now more than ever, Texans must demand that their Legislature craft a responsible, conservative state budget with no further use of the rainy day fund.”
The Honorable Talmadge Heflin is Director of the Center for Fiscal Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Heflin served 11 terms in the Texas House of Representatives and chaired the House Appropriations Committee in 2003, leading the Texas Legislature’s successful efforts to close a $10 billion budget deficit without a tax increase. His recommendations for how legislators should address Texas’ budget situation were published in the January 2nd edition of the Austin American-Statesman.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit free-market research institute based in Austin.
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