Rainy day fund

Road to Nowhere

Oct 11, 2013 By Paul Burka

Oil money’s nice, but actually funding our infrastructure needs is even better.

Dewhurst wants to use the Rainy Day fund for water, highways

Dec 3, 2012 By Paul Burka

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…

Ogden: State has $1.8 billion surplus

Oct 5, 2011 By Paul Burka

This is what he told me in a conversation we had earlier today. The reason is higher-than-expected sales tax receipts and a similar bonanza of oil and gas money for the Rainy Day Fund, above the comptroller’s estimate. Due to the increased revenue, Ogden said, there will be fewer layoffs…

R.G.’s Take: The Nanny State of Texas

May 24, 2011 By R.G. Ratcliffe

Once upon a time, not so long ago, in a faraway land called Pennsylvania, a woman named Sarah Palin brought 200 protest cookies to school for children at the Plumstead Christian School - because she had read a report – mistaken as it turns out – that the state was going to ban such sweets from public school parties. Sarah mocked the policy as a “nanny state run amok.” She was there to fight for the freedom of sweet treats. “Who should be making the decisions on what you eat … in school, choices: Should it be government or should it be the parents?” Sarah asked her crowd. “It should be the parents.” Oh, no, said I, if this is true, then Texas has three of the biggest nannies in the land: Susan Combs, Todd Staples and Rick Perry. And the Legislature has been nannying up a storm as of late, seeking to impose government dictates on its citizens for their own good. Let’s start at the beginning, when government was wise, children were wonderful and we all wanted what was best for our future generations.

Sunny skies ahead

Apr 21, 2011 By Paul Burka

From Bloomberg: Texas’s reserve fund may climb to 28 percent more than officially forecast by 2013 as energy prices rally, a gain that might help the second-most populous state avoid some spending cuts, a key senator said. The fund, fed by energy taxes and forecast by the state comptroller to reach $9.4 billion by the end of August 2013, may gain much more by then, Senate Finance Committee chairman Steve Ogden, a Bryan Republican, said yesterday. “That fund could easily rise to $12 billion,” Ogden said at a committee hearing. He based his estimate on revenue increases from taxes on oil and natural-gas production in the state as energy prices climb.... * * * * I reported something similar earlier this month (See "Oil's Well that Ends Well," posted April 14.)  Sales tax receipts are up over the previous year, and the rig count is up by 26% to 30%, depending upon which reporting service you prefer. The sales tax numbers are particularly encouraging:

RedState.com to Texas Republicans: “Grow a spine”

Mar 17, 2011 By Paul Burka

Melissa Clouthier's Wednesday post on the widely read conservative blog took Rick Perry and Texas Republicans to task for being soft on budget cuts and the use of the Rainy Day Fund: Texas enjoys a super-majority Republican status. As a friend pointed out to me, if Texas Republicans wanted to wholesale rewrite the Texas constitution with nary a Democrat involved, they could do it. And yet, Texas Republicans facing a budget shortfall are turning into collective addled mush. Tough decisions need to be made to balance the budget. The Republicans don’t want to make them, which leads to Republican governor Rick Perry reversing himself on the use of the Rainy Day Fund, Texas Governor Rick Perry admitted on Tuesday [March 15] that the state will have to use about a third of its rainy day fund to close a budget deficit this year, abandoning his stance that the fund should not be used. It is not every day that I get a chance to defend Rick Perry, so I had better take advantage of the opportunity. What Clouthier and RedState fail to understand is that under Texas's pay-as-you-go system, the state must balance its accounts by the end of the fiscal year on August 31.

Dewhurst Hits Bottom

Oct 21, 2009 By Paul Burka

I have already received a couple of calls from friends who wanted to be sure that I noticed the Dew's op-ed piece in today's Statesman about how Texas balanced its budget. His salient characteristic is on full display here: There is no depth of cravenness so low that he will not seek it out in pursuit of self-promotion. First, I will offer the piece without comment. Dewhurst writes: Given recent comments about our state's budget, I feel it is time to separate fact from political fiction. The fact is, in stark contrast to the U. S. Congress, the Texas Constitution requires the Legislature to balance the state budget every two years, and that would have happened with or without any federal stimulus dollars. In 2007, I led the effort to save $7 billion to balance the revenue shortfall we anticipated this year. So it's simply political fiction that stimulus dollars were necessary to balance our budget. Although we tried to use the federal stimulus dollars on one-time expenditures, in some cases the federal government made us use the money on recurring costs that actually add to the cost of state government. While other states struggle with overwhelming deficits, Texas has created a model for the rest of the nation to follow that is based on living within its available revenue. The state cut taxes a net $4 billion per year in 2007 while fostering a predictable regulatory environment that allows business to thrive and continue to make Texas the No. 1 job creator in the U.S. over the past two years. Although this year's session took place in the context of significant turmoil in the global marketplace and economic upheaval in Texas and across our country, the Legislature successfully shaped a balanced state budget that meets the needs of Texans and sufficiently funds essential programs and agencies through the next two years. Working together, we crafted and Gov. Rick Perry signed a balanced budget that has left our state prepared to tackle the challenges that lie ahead. Not only did we balance our budget without raising taxes, we cut taxes for more than 40,000 small businesses and left our Rainy Day Fund untouched so we can once again balance our budget in 2011. The fact remains that Texas is one of only six states whose budget isn't in the red, even though our state is among the fastest growing in the nation. The state has an unemployment rate well below the national average, it continues to attract jobs from companies that have relocated or expanded in Texas, it has one of the healthiest housing markets in the nation, and Texas cities are consistently recognized for their healthy job markets, high quality of living and resistance to the recession. Here in Texas, we live within our means and create a climate that gives individuals and businesses the opportunity to succeed. Texas has faced and overcome tough financial situations in the past by tightening our belt, just like Texas families are doing today. In 2003, Texas encountered a $10 billion budget shortfall. Instead of raising taxes, we cut discretionary spending and implemented sound fiscal policies that helped us generate a multi-billion dollar surplus over the next six years, before the national recession hit Texas. Unlike Washington, we balance our budget every session, control spending, keep taxes low and ensure our children and grandchildren aren't saddled with the kind of crippling debt that our federal government has irresponsibly created. Now for some comments. I trust that readers had no trouble picking out the whopper in this epistle:

Ogden defends use of stimulus funds, predicts worsening economy

Apr 1, 2009 By Patricia Kilday Hart

Opening the floor debate on the budget bill, Finance chair Steve Ogden defended his use of federal stimulus funds and not dipping into the state’s Rainy Day Fund, noting that the $182.25 billion spending plan is seven percent higher than last biennium. “That is attributable to the federal stimulus funding,”…

The Hole Ball Game

Mar 25, 2009 By Paul Burka

As lawmakers try to determine what can and cannot be done with the stimulus money, a crucial question has arisen. The purpose of the stimulus money is to help states fill holes in their budget. The question is: Does Texas have a hole–or, to put it another way, will the…

Rainy Day Fund vote could determine fate of the session

Jan 12, 2009 By Paul Burka

When I saw the revenue estimate today, I had a flashback to 2003, when Carole Keeton Strayhorn greeted returning lawmakers with a $9.9 billion shortfall. Susan Combs had similar bad news, a $77.1 billion revenue estimate that was $9.1 billion less than the $86.2 billion estimate of 2007. But there…

Revenue Estimate Looms. Make that “Glooms.”

Jan 12, 2009 By Paul Burka

This morning comptroller Susan Combs will release her revenue estimate of the money that will be available for the Legislature to spend in the next biennium. Expectations are that the estimate will come in showing little or no revenue growth. The state treasury does have a surplus of more than…