Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Chron Says Let’s Use the Rainy Day Fund

The Houston Chronicle has, it seems, put into words what is on the minds of many of us: if there is such a shortfall in the state budget that the state’s health and education expenditures for the next two years are destined for a chopping block – a chopping block with an attitude – isn’t it now time to state the obvious?

It’s raining.

Since the '80's Texas has maintained a "Rainy Day Fund," now estimated at $9 billion, to be used in the event that there is some sort of economic crisis - a rainy day.

When you put money away for a rainy day, someone at some point someone has to take a look outside and see if it’s raining.

By all accounting what is needed is a $12 billion increase in funding to take care of all the expected increases in needs across the state. More children will enroll in public schools than ever before over the next two years. More people will get sick as the baby boomer generation gets older and older. But instead of increase, state budget projections are for a $15 billion (optimistically) to a $25 billion deficit.

And with health and human services and education taking up more than half of all state expenditures it seems to many that we are about to do great harm to the youngest of us and the oldest.

And with a 2/3s majority in the State House, it seems that budget cutting will be the watchword of the day, and not raising revenue.

Ironic then, that in a new poll by the Austin American-Statesman a majority of Texans want the legislature to spare the axe in the areas of health and education.

“Some 70 percent of respondents said lawmakers should not cut school spending, and 61 percent said they want no spending cuts on health care programs for children and low- to moderate-income families.”
Elections have consequences. Voters turned out in droves last November to de-select an agenda that would have been more attuned to follow just those sentiments and find areas other than the future of the state to make budget cuts.

So really, it makes no sense to maintain a rainy day fund when the state legislature is poised to dismantle its future and weaken the state to the point of bankrupting our future.

It’s raining.

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