Well, good for him. The proposal is to use $1 billion from the fund for water projects and for highways. A billion doesn’t buy you what it used to, but it’s a start. Dewhurst also proposed setting up a bank for water and transportation projects. I think he and Craddick had planned something similar at one point.
This is an important development. It represents a significant departure from the position taken by Governor Perry in the 2011 session, that the Rainy Day Fund should be treated as a sort of savings account in case of natural disasters. The silliness of this argument is that, in the case of a natural disaster, FEMA will provide the aid.
It can also be read as a signal that the state’s leadership recognizes that issues like water and transportation have been neglected in recent years, and that the time has come to reverse that trend–a view shared by the state’s business community.
Lest anyone start turning backflips over Dewhurst’s recent conversion to spending, we should recall that he told senators that he favored using the Rainy Day Fund last session, only to execute a quick about-face, to the senators’ dismay.