Texas Budget Cuts - House Looking at Tapping Some of Rainy Day Fund - Why this might be good
Message submitted by Republican, Conservative activist Sharon Roberts about the current state of the Texas Budget and why it may be necessary to lightly tap into the Texas Rainy Day Fund.
This week, our legislature will be discussing and voting on our budget. Having spent a lot of time studying, reviewing and talking to legislators, I have come to a conclusion. It is imperative we pass this budget. It is a good solution to a very difficult issue. Originally I had thought it best to not touch the rainy day fund. Having looked at all the facts and the projections on the unfunded mandates, it is the best solution we have at this time. They are going to use a portion of the fund, but not all of it. The summary is below. Please call your representatives and ask them to vote FOR the budget measures.
Further information on the specific bills and salient points follow. Later tomorrow, I will put out the "myths" that are being perpetuated by the liberal media about this budget and about Texas. Thanks for your help!
Two bills will be brought to the floor for second reading on Thursday. If passed to third reading, the House will do third reading and final passage on Friday.
HB 4 – This is the supplemental appropriations bill to balance the books at the end of the current budget year, as the Texas Constitution requires. It implements $1.2 billion in spending cuts previously approved by the state leadership, provides $600 million in new funding to close a shortfall in the Foundation School Program, and applies $3.2 billion from the rainy day fund to close the rest of the current biennium’s budget deficit.
A total of 65 amendments have been pre-filed. Amendments may make additional spending cuts or move spending from one program to another, but are out of order if they result in a net increase in spending. Conservative legislators will propose amendments for additional spending reductions that would allow the draw on the rainy day fund to be less than $3 billion.
HB 275 – This is the bill that authorizes the use of the rainy day fund for part of the current biennium’s budget deficit. This is being done through separate legislation because the vote threshold for passage is different than for the supplemental appropriations bill. In its current version, the draw on the rainy day fund would be $3.2 billion. A total of 46 amendments have been pre-filed. Conservative legislators will propose amendments to reduce the draw – ideally below $3 billion – based on additional spending reductions that are made in HB 4.
On Friday, HB 1, the proposed 2012-13 state budget, will be brought to the floor for second reading. Because the second-reading debate is expected to last well past midnight, after the bill is passed to third reading, the speaker will adjourn the House for a few minutes, convene a new “legislative day,” and allow the vote on third reading and final passage so that members can go home for the weekend when they leave the Capitol. A total of 371 amendments have been pre-filed. Amendments may make additional spending cuts or move spending from one program to another, but are out of order if they result in a net increase in spending.
• The proposed 2012-13 budget proposes to spend $164.5 billion in “all funds.” This represents a 12.3% reduction from the current biennium. The amount of general revenue spending is $77.6 billion, a 5.4% reduction.
• The media accounts of a $27 billion budget shortfall are based on estimates developed by the Center for Public Policy Priorities that the state would need $99 billion in general revenue and $214 billion in all funds “to merely maintain the state’s already lean current services.”
• The $214 billion all-funds total represents an 18% spending increase over the next two years – to maintain their definition of “current services.”
• A substantial amount of the remaining “shortfall” in the public education and Medicaid programs consists of one-time stimulus funds that were used in the last budget but have since expired.
• The 2010-11 budget included $12.1 billion in federal funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), of which $6.4 billion was allocated for general revenue spending and $5.7 billion was spent directly by state agencies. The 2009 supplemental appropriations bill spent an additional $2.4 billion in federal stimulus funds.
• Since 1990, Texas state government has grown at nearly three times the rate of population growth plus inflation – 296% spending growth vs. 115.5% population plus inflation.
• Total Texas public school expenditures increased 334.5% from 1987 to 2007, an increase of 142% when adjusting for inflation and an increase of 66% per pupil.
• The 2010-11 budget appropriated a total of $44.8 billion (or nearly 25% of the All Funds budget) to Medicaid. This was an 11% increase in All Funds and a 15.3% increase in state general revenue.
• During the last decade, the state general revenue match for Medicaid has increased from $10.1 billion in 2002-03 to $18.6 billion in 2010-11.
• General revenue appropriations have exceeded the level justified by population growth and inflation in every year since 1992. This year alone, general revenue appropriations are $14.3 billion higher than if a population-plus-inflation limit had been in place since 1990.
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About Sharon Roberts
After a career in technology for over 20 years as a strategist, Sharon Roberts took an early retirement to get more involved in her country.
She has watched each session of the House, Senate, and Committee hearings at national level for over 2 years. Her written work is independently published and on occasion published in other periodicals. Last year she added a focus on the Texas legislature to her publications. In 2010, she was a co-chair of the National Grassroots Committee that evaluated every national conservative candidate in the country. They published research to 32 states and had a readership of over 700,000 prior to election day in November.
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