Despite Gov. Greg Abbott exhorting lawmakers not to loot the Economic Stabilization Fund to balance the budget, the new chairman of the House Appropriations Committee says he’s open to doing just that.
State Rep. John Zerwas (R-Richmond) on Monday told fellow lawmakers that the extravagant spending plan put forward by House Speaker Joe Straus (R- San Antonio) has created a “delta” that needs to be bridged. Last month, Straus offered a budget that Comptroller Glenn Hegar says exceeds the revenues that will be available to lawmakers.
In his State of the State address, Abbott exhorted lawmakers not to tap the Economic Stabilization Fund, which is colloquially referred to as the “rainy day fund,” to balance the budget.
As it concerns our budget, Texans know how to live within their means. No less should be expected from their government.
Just as families have to balance needs versus wants, so must we.
That process doesn’t start with the next budget. It starts now.
We must cut spending in our current biennium to ensure we live within our budget. To accomplish that, I am today directing state agencies to impose an immediate hiring freeze through the end of August. This should free up about $200 million in our current budget.
And in the next biennium, I’m confident we can balance the budget without looting the Rainy Day Fund.
The chair of the Texas Senate’s Finance Committee, Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), produced a draft budget that lives within the available revenues.
Zerwas, who has a “F” rating on the Fiscal Responsibility Index, has in the past openly advocated for ObamaCare and imposing new mandates on Texas’ already over-burdened Medicaid program.
Even the pro-Straus “Texas Conservative Coalition,” a caucus of Republican lawmakers, is openly opposed to the Straus-Zerwas plan to raid the ESF to fuel a spending spree.
Meanwhile, Texas Republicans and conservative groups have called on the legislature to follow Abbott’s call to balance the budget through spending restraint.