In advance of debate on the Texas House’s version of the state budget, a group of conservative lawmakers say they will oppose the budget if it spends money from the state’s “rainy day fund.”
Earlier this year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott urged lawmakers not to “loot” the Economic Stabilization Fund to balance the budget.
Here’s the statement from the Freedom Caucus of the Texas House:
The Texas Freedom Caucus opposes spending money from our state’s savings account because no compelling reason to do so has been presented. There is no budget crisis. We have more money overall than we had to spend in the last budget. It is not wise to take money from our Economic Stabilization Fund (aka Rainy Day fund) created in 1988 to “…offset unforeseen shortfalls in revenue” in order to pay for ordinary items that should be addressed in normal budget prioritization.
The proposed House budget calls for spending money from the ESF for typical budget expenses such as border security, teachers’ healthcare and student financial aid. These are ordinary items that we can address with existing funds. They are not one-time expenses. It is worth noting the Texas Senate passed a budget 31-0 without using any money from the Rainy Day Fund. There is no revenue shortfall.
We do have a greater challenge in prioritizing our spending because the Legislature and Texans chose to constitutionally dedicate more money to roads, leaving less discretionary money than we might have had otherwise. Even so, general revenue remains basically flat compared to last budget.
We rightfully chose to prioritize spending on roads. We can prioritize other important items as well. The Texas Freedom Caucus will be voting no on a budget that spends our state’s savings account without a compelling reason to do so.