Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Partial Victory: The Rainy Day Fund Will Be Tapped

In a move that is sure to anger his Tea Party base (the only group of Texans who would still vote for him if last year’s mid-term election was repeated) Rick Perry finally relented and agreed to sign a budget bill that included a draw from the Economic Stabilization Fund aka the Rainy Day fund.

I call that a partial victory because while it will surely knock down the hits to public education we are all expecting to come next year, the amount that Perry will OK is only $3.1 billion - or $3.2 billion depending on which source you want to believe.

Heck, what’s a hundred million dollars here and there?

But I see this as a partial victory because the shortfall this next year is $4.3 billion.

This leaves untouched over $6 billion, and Perry pledges not to sign a 2012-2013 budget that has another draw on the fund. Which is probably a moot point because a full 2/3 vote in the house would be needed to get funds for that budget year. Tea Party caucus votes are going to make the 60% vote needed to release the funds this year close, but probably doable. But 66%? That’s 100 Yea votes. That’s probably not doable.

But here’s the thing: Perry stood up to the Feds last year and said that he was constitutionally unable to make any educational budgeting guarantees to the Department of Education, and that means that Texas will not receive a total of $830 million in federal education grants that other states received.

He got a lot of yippees from the yahoos in his party when he announced that, but now it is easy to see that those funds could have nearly made up for the $1.2 billion gap between what is needed to close the gap and what we are going to fill it with.

It is the governor’s own fault that we are in the mess we are in right now. Everyone knows it. But now it seems that if Perry moves to correct the situation in a proper fashion that is tantamount to admitting to the past mistakes and errors in taxing policies.

And Perry wouldn’t want to do that.

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