The Texas Public Policy Foundation has asked me to post Talmadge Heflin response to my commentary yesterday about Mr. Heflin’s statement that excessive spending caused the 2003 budget shortfall. His analysis follows:
At the start of the 2001 session, the Legislature had $6 billion in accumulated surpluses from the Bush years. At the end of that session, all but $9 million had been spent in order to accommodate a 16% budget increase.
In June 2001, when Comptroller Carole Rylander certified that budget, she warned that the Legislature had already dug a $5 billion hole for the next session by adding several new programs that would grow even larger in that budget cycle, not to mention the accounting tricks that allowed it to overspend the available revenue. If the Legislature had restrained its spending that session and held those surpluses back, the original hole that Rylander identified would not have existed, and the remaining surpluses would have been available to cover most (if not all) of the economic effects from the recession and 9/11.
The 2003 deficit was primarily (if not entirely) a creation of the spending decisions made by the 2001 Legislature.