The Texas legislature was called in for it’s THIRD Special session, the last two only needed because of the utter incompetence of the leadership teams of Straus, Dewhurst and even Perry (Can we bill them for the cost?). The issue is STILL transportation; the fact that they had a RECORD revenue increase, increased spending for Health and Human Services 56% over lat budget (the probable reason for the Democrat high-fives after the budget passed) and yet STILL didn’t properly fund transportation- one of the key functions of State government.
The current scheme is to dedicate a percentage of the cash flow that has been going to the Economic Stabilization Fund (Which was previously raided for the other key function of water management) to transportation. The first Senate bill had a shockingly responsible way of doing this; raiding the cash flow only AFTER the ESF (also called by the incorrect name of ‘Rainy Day Fund’) reached a ‘floor amount. Then they could raid 50% of the cash flow until the fund reached the statutory maximum, then all cash flow would go to transportation. Unfortunately, the big spenders in the House really don’t WANT to pan for the possibility of hard times, so they removed the ‘floor’, which could allow the cash flow to the reserve be cut in half, even if the reserve was dangerously low. This received 106 votes, a number of those on the promise that the conference committee would restore the floor. The two bills went to committee and came out with the floor there, but could be eliminated by the Legislative Budget Board (controlled completely by the Perry, Dewhurst, and Straus). Essentially giving the ‘big boys’ $3 billion to play with in ‘transportation’ at their discretion; fiscal insanity! They needed 100 votes in the House (as this will need to be a Constitutional Amendment) but only pulled 86. That ended the Second special session.
So, did the ‘Powers That Be’ learn from their leadership and fiscal ineptitude? Apparently, the UNlearned some things. The Senate took a bill first thing and passed it- with no floor – 22-3 (Dan Patrick and Ken Paxton were two of the 3 votes for sanity). And this is what is being sent to the Texas House.
The Texas House members have to STOP playing these games and insist on a sound fiscal approach that takes into account the possibility of darn days sometime in the future. They need to insist on a HARD, CODIFIED floor to ANY raid on the ESF, or to NOT raid it at all! Some members made the mistake of assuming the spenders were bargaining in good faith and can be trusted. They can’t. Some just want to go home; coming home if they show these levels of financial irresponsibility will not be as pleasant as they would think. Get it done RIGHT, folks!
This message needs to be deliver to EVERY GOP member in the house, delivered loud and often. Billions are at stake here, as is setting up for a potential financial disaster.