Just as conservatives feared, the Democrat coalition in the Texas House is now openly campaigning to loot the state’s savings in order to fund bigger spending.
In a budget released today, Texas House Appropriations Chairman John Zerwas (R–Richmond) is proposing to spend $1.4 billion of the Economic Stabilization Fund, also known as the Rainy Day Fund, in order to fill in the gaps left by lawmakers in the previous budget.
In recent years, lawmakers have balanced budgets by deliberately under-funding programs like Medicaid. Because of this, they often have to shore up a number of agencies and programs with supplemental appropriations the following session.
However, that spending is typically paid out of new revenue rather than from savings like Zerwas proposes.
“Using a small portion of the Economic Stabilization Fund, combined with spending reductions, is the responsible way for us to close out the current budget cycle and respond to the slowdown in our economy,” said Zerwas in a prepared statement.
Zerwas’ statement strains credibility.
So far, Texans have yet to see anything remotely close to “spending reductions” from the Texas House. Instead, House appropriators have proposed spending billions of dollars more while slashing border security funding.
The Zerwas-Straus proposal is in direct conflict with statements by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott in opposition using the ESF to balance the budget. They also drew a sharp rebuke from the Texas Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative lawmakers in the Texas House.
“The Texas Freedom Caucus shares the sentiment that we can take care of the state’s business without tapping the Rainy Day Fund, and that includes the supplemental appropriations bill,” said State Rep. Matt Schaefer (R–Tyler), who serves as chairman of the caucus.
Texans should demand that government live within its means and preserve the state’s savings for real emergencies rather than spending sprees.