During the last several budget cycles, big-spenders intent on subsidizing their pet projects have covetously eyed the growing size of the state’s “rainy day fund.” The catastrophic nature of Hurricane Harvey shows just how prescient conservative lawmakers have been in protecting the fund from legislative looters.
Known legally as the “Economic Stabilization Fund,” the constitutionally dedicated account has been eyed by those who would rather spend the money than save for a “rainy day.” In January, Gov. Greg Abbott urged lawmakers avoid “looting” the fund to subsidize the regular budget.
During the 2017 regular session, Democrats and some of their Republican enablers in the House leadership wanted to pull billions from the ESF to fund a variety of wish-list programs. This included Houston-area Republican State Reps. Dennis Bonnen, Sarah Davis, Tom Oliverson, Kevin Roberts, Wayne Faircloth, Phil Stephenson and Dennis Paul, as well as Corpus Christi’s Todd Hunter. Each of them voted with the House leadership and Democrats to loot the ESF during the 2017 session.
Left-wing news publications around the state praised their misguided, big-spending efforts. In April, the Dallas Morning News foolishly said raiding the fund was “responsible.”
It’s now readily apparent those actions were irresponsible and misguided.
If the House leadership’s spend-it crowd had had their way, not only would the state’s finances have blown the budget but the state would be in far worse shape heading into what will undoubtedly be a long and expensive recovery.
There is little doubt lawmakers will need to tap the ESF to make critical infrastructure repairs and address other costs. After all, this is why the fund exists.
Make no mistake: fiscal prudence in administering those dollars will be even more important in the months and years ahead. The federal experience with the “Super Storm Sandy” relief measure shows just how quickly establishment politicians and their cronies can load up critical legislation with pork projects and unnecessary spending.