By a vote of 30 to 1, the Texas Senate today passed their version of HB 275 which taps the state’s rainy day fund for the current biennium. They are withdrawing $800 million more than the House.

Remember, that draw is to fund the current 2010-2011 budget’s shortfall.

The Texas House found that they only needed $3.1 billion out of the rainy day fund to balance the books. The House also made that draw after cutting spending.

The Senate instead voted to draw down the money before taking action on current-biennium cuts.

Meanwhile, senators rejected an effort by Democratic State Sen. Rodney Ellis (Houston) to take even more from the RDF. According to media reports, the Democrats and Republican Jeff Wentworth (San Antonio) all voted with Ellis, while the rest of the Republican opposed the move.

I guess taxpayers are supposed to take solace that the Senate’s take from the RDF wasn’t as bad as it could have been…

What makes the question of the size of draw interesting is that if they take “too much” for the current biennium — that is, more than is strictly needed to close out the fiscal year books — the dollars just roll into the new fiscal year’s general revenue. It has the effect of giving them “free” money to spend beyond what is strictly available through the revenue forecast.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and an Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, and think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, a son-in-law, and a dog. Michael is the author of three books, including "Reflections on Life and Liberty."