Remember when everyone thought the Texas Senate would be the fiscal grown-ups this session? Well, this week saw those hopes set on fire as senators voted unanimously to set the state on a collision course with a downgraded credit rating.
The Senate voted 31-0 to draw nearly $6 billion from the $8 billion Economic Stabilization Fund—incorrectly called the “rainy day fund” by those who see it as a mad money account. Their vote would draw out money for water infrastructure, roads and education in the form of a constitutional amendment.
The draw would happen at the end of November this year, leaving the state with only $3-$4 billion in the Economic Stabilization Fund.
Texas Governor Rick Perry has said the state needs an ESF of about 7.5 percent of General Revenues to maintain the state’s outstanding, triple-A bond rating. That would mean keeping an ESF balance of about $7 billion.
The Senate’s action takes us to about half that number.
One really has to wonder what the senators think “ESF” means … Extra Spending Fund? Elite’s Slush Fund? Again, the vote was unanimous—from tax-and-spend liberal Kirk Watson to conservative Republicans Ken Paxton and Dan Patrick.
Remember, this is the legislative session that was preceded by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, and a historic freshman class of House and Senate members pledging NOT to raid the economic stabilization fund and pledging NOT to raise taxes. Instead, they fret over there being “too much” money projected to be in the ESF.
If they think there is too much money in the state’s ESF, then they should give it back. But they won’t. They have no intention of doing so. They want to spend it, and spend a lot of it.