Friday, March 04, 2011

Susan Combs Checks Out the Weather: Rain is Coming

In her testimony yesterday at a House Appropriations Committee meeting, State Comptroller Susan Combs made no bones about the fact that the “Rainy Day Fund” would have to be tapped  to help balance next year’s budget. The “Rainy Day Fund,” a fund set aside since 1988, the one funded by taxes paid by oil companies, is a fund to be used during times of economic hardship so that education in Texas would not suffer as a result of a bad economy.

A thoroughly and unbelievably far-sighted idea, I think. Must’ve been a Democrat who thought of it.

Anyway, in her testimony, Combs stated what has become obvious to everyone but Governor Perry, Lt. Governor Dewhurst and House Speaker Straus, to wit (from the Austin American-Statesman):

“I don't know how you get to $4.3 (billion) with cuts. I really don't know how you do it.”
Combs was saying the obvious. Cuts have already been made in this fiscal year, and still it appears that there will be a shortfall. If you want to balance the budget with cuts you are going to have to make some draconian decisions. Decisions much like the ones I have been reading about in FortBendNow where a local Fort Bend County school board considers a world where there are 1,000 fewer teachers to teach Fort Bend ISD’s growing student population.

State Rep Jim Pitts, Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, has already made the move to take $4.3 billion from the fund for next year by filing a bill to do just that. He will need 60% approval to get that done, a dicey thing as I mentioned before because Tea Party Republicans have been told not to touch the Rainy Day Fund.

But as I continued to read the American-Statesman article I stumbled over this brain fart:

“Answering the criticism that it is premature to consider using the rainy day fund, Pitts said he wanted to move on this decision now so the committee members and the full House could have a say on how to distribute that found money, rather than leaving it to the appointed conference committee members who will negotiate details of the final budget.”
Huh? What? You mean to say we are going to leave it to the legislature to decide “how to distribute” 4.3 billion dollars? Are you kidding?

Jim Pitts, you distribute it the way that the law says you do it: you spend it on public schools so they can buy textbooks and have enough educators on the payroll to get the job done.

Decide? What’s to decide?

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