Some members of the Texas Senate just can’t keep their hands out of the rainy day fund. The Senate Finance Committee voted today to take even more money out of the fund than the House did to pay for current operations.

You’ll recall that the Texas House voted to use $3.1 billion out of the rainy day fund for use in the current 2010-2011 biennium. They did that after cutting spending. The House (and Senate) have wisely (so far) not used the RDF to fund the 2012-2013 budget.

But the Texas Senate is just itching to do so. As Andrew Kerr noted yesterday, the Senate allowed Royce West (D-Dallas) to late-file legislation that would pull $2 billion from the fund.

Now today the Finance Committee voted to use up to $3.9 billion — that’s $800 million more than the House — ostensibly for use in the current biennium. But not really.

Basically, they are using an accounting gimmick to take money they can spend tomorrow. As reported by the Austin American Statesman‘s Capitol reporter Kate Alexander, the move would actually make those dollars available for the next biennium budget.

Confused? It seems that’s exactly what the Senate apparently is going for.

For what it’s worth, the Senate is moving to tap the fund before adopting the cuts needed for the current biennium. They’ve got the process irresponsibly backwards.

Senators need to reject this move designed to mis-spend the rainy day fund. They need to live within the people’s means, not create new holes for the taxpayers to fill.

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."


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