Just last night I was hearing a veteran member quote a Perry staffer saying that Perry didn’t want this really budget. No, he wanted one that was even worse. And he got it. Perry steamrolled the House. He limited the spending of the Rainy Day Fund to 3.2 billion, all of it to balance the budget by paying the state’s bills. The rest of the 4.3B necessary to balance the budget will come from more cuts ($800M and $50M). Then, for good measure, he vowed to veto the budget if lawmakers attempted to spend any of the remaining money in the Rainy Day Fund. I don’t know what the leadership in the House has been doing, but Perry has been calling in House members to lobby them against using the Rainy Day Fund. He has also been lobbying the committee. Obviously, he is a heckuva good lobbyist. The House won nothing in the negotiations except the ability to spend $3.2B from the Rainy Day Fund, but only for the purpose of balancing the budget. It was a hollow victory because the state cannot constitutionally fail to balance the budget. All the $3.2B achieves is to spare the state the embarrassment of being technically broke. After Pitts read the press release, Turner, Villarreal, and McConnell asked a few questions and then subsided into shock. I supppose it is a little late for second-guessing, but I wonder if it wasn’t a mistake to pressure Perry into an agreement at this relatively early stage in the game. The budget pressure, if it comes at all, will occur in April and May, if not July and August. All the hurry-up accomplished was to get the bills ready to be marked up, printed, and, ultimately, moved to the Senate. Meanwhile, Perry won a total victory. He got everything he wanted. The House got nothing.
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