If you look up and notice you’re one of the only Republican House members going with the Democrats on a budget vote, chances are you’re wrong. Unfortunately for freshman Rep. Larry Gonzales (R – Round Rock), nobody offered him that advice. In perhaps one of the worst fiscal votes of the 82nd Session, he voted to create a budgetary shortfall as soon as the legislature re-convenes in January 2013.
The vote came during the first day of debate on the state budget in the House, when State Rep. Pete Gallego (D – Alpine) offered up an amendment to HB 1 (#106) to change the funding for the Foundation Schools Program (the primary source of public school funding at the state level). Instead of appropriating an equal amount of funds for our public schools over both years (remember our budget is set over two years), Rep. Gallego wanted to front-load the first year by almost $8 billion more than the second.
Rep. Gallego and his Democratic colleagues thought this was a clever way of getting around the constitutional prohibition on binding future legislatures, knowing the only way they could continue to overfund “enrollment growth” was to draw down the Rainy Day Fund as soon the legislature re-convened in January of 2013 (note: the state’s fiscal biennium’s end on August 31st of odd-numbered years).
In essence, Rep. Gallego and the Democrats were committing the state to spend it’s savings account in the future as if it were General Revenue, not knowing what could happen in the interim (a hurricane striking the coast for example, or the initial implementation of ObamaCare) that would require the use of those funds.
This would be on top of the $15+ billion in new health care expenses we already know will strain the next session.
Such fiscal irresponsibility should not be tolerated, even if reckless proposals like this are now the norm for Texas Democrats.
So why did freshman Republican Larry Gonzales out of Round Rock vote for it? He was one of only two Republicans out of 101 who did, not even issuing a correcting statement in the House Journal (we saw how confused he was voting at the end of the session).
Unfortunately for the taxpayers in House District 52, Rep. Gonzales displayed this fiscal recklessness throughout the entire session. He scored a dismal “D” on his first Fiscal Responsibility Index evaluation, far below the GOP average of a strong B. In fact, he was rated worse than 90 Republican legislators!
That’s inexcusable for someone who campaigned on the principles of conservatism.