rainy day fund

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…