Senate Bill 2 includes Amendment That Could Divert Billions From Rainy Day Fund

 

Photo Courtesy of KETA


“This afternoon, an amendment was added to Senate Bill 2 that would automatically redirect any rainy day fund balancein excess of $6.5 billion at the end of the next biennium into more school spending.  Please ask your members or readers to contact their state representatives ASAP (the House is in session tonight) and encourage them to remove this provision when SB 2 comes back on third reading tomorrow.”

From Talmadge Heflin, Director of TPPF’s Center for Fiscal Policy

Talmadge Heflin, Director of TPPF’s Center for Fiscal Policy

Senate Bill 2 includes amendment that could divert billions from rainy day fund

An amendment offered to Senate Bill 2 – and adopted on a non-record vote – would require that any rainy day fund balance projected in excess of $6.5 billion at the end of the 2012-13 biennium be directed immediately into the Foundation School Program. If passed, this amendment could siphon as much as $2 billion away from the rainy day fund over the next two years, according to preliminary estimates.

The Texas House and Senate accomplished a historic feat at the end of the regular session mere days ago, when they passed a budget that was an all-funds cut from the preceding biennium, did not raise taxes, and did not squander a penny of the rainy day fund. This amendment would threaten that tremendous accomplishment and undo one of the most important outcomes of the regular session of the 82nd Texas Legislature.

Voters conveyed a clear message last November that they wanted to see the state’s budget shortfall addressed by pruning the overgrowth in spending. With this amendment, the Texas House would respond that it views the budget shortfall as a mere math problem.

School spending has grown far faster than enrollment growth or inflation, in part due to poor decisions by local school districts.  Two years ago, the Legislature propped up the school districts with $2.3 billion in federal stimulus funds, with the understanding that these one-time funds would not be replaced.  School districts need to be challenged to become more efficient and prudent in how they spend taxpayer dollars, and the time for them to bite the bullet has come.

I encourage Members to remove this provision when Senate Bill 2 comes up on third reading.

Sincerely,

Talmadge Heflin

Director, Center for Fiscal Policy

Texas Public Policy Foundation

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About Alice Linahan

Alice Linahan is a Conservative, politically-active Texas Mom who has worked hard in the trenches of the Tea Party movement. As an active Real Estate blogger turned online newspaper owner, Alice launched Resolute Media Group along with two partners. It quickly grew into playing an integral part in holding politicians and the progressive/liberal media accountable by getting real stories out to Americans across the country using social media integration and Resolute Media’s “North Texas Navigator”. Now Alice has launched Voices to Action Consulting. Alice is working hard to train boots on the ground activists using social media techniques to get accurate information out to the passive majority of Americans. In addition she is working on projects at both the state and national level to save our Country from attacks from within our own borders. In addition I am currently on the Advisory Board for a new series of e-books by Harper-Collins entitled "Voices of the Tea Party". I have been published in such publications as Focus on the Family's Citizen Magazine and am board member of Women on the Wall, an organization working on building a safe and prosperous Texas for our children and grandchildren to thrive.
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3 Responses to Senate Bill 2 includes Amendment That Could Divert Billions From Rainy Day Fund

  1. Tom Moore says:

    To me it’s not enough to know an amendment was added. I want to know WHO added the amendment to Senate Bill 2 that would automatically redirect money to be used from the rainy day fund.

  2. Tom,
    I think you are correct. WHO, WHY and What the heck are they up to…..
    Hope this helps.

    House GOP OKs tapping Rainy Day Fund for 2012-13
    “That clearly may be the biggest surprise of the Regular and Special Sessions occurred Thursday when the House agreed to tap the Rainy Day Fund for 2012-13.
    The move came in an unconventional proposal.
    State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, proposed her amendment for Senate Bill 2 — a bill that makes technical changes to the 2012-13-budget bill.
    The Legislature approved tapping the RDF for $3.11 billion to pay the state’s bills by the end of August. This leaves more than $6 billion in the Economic Stabilization Fund.
    Democrats have been focused on filling the gap of $4 billion in school funding for 2012-13 from current spending levels.
    Howard said she had a viable solution for the funding gap for public education — that apparently also concerned rural Texas Republicans and those elected with the help of the Tea Party.
    She would preserve the remainder in the RDF, but proposed using money flowing into the fund in the next couple of years be used to pay for student enrollment growth in public education — up to $2.2 billion.
    She received positive feedback at the back mic from two Republicans, Randy Weber of Pearland and Burt Solomons of Carrollton. State Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, eventually accepted the amendment.
    The move received applause.
    Because Howard’s plan impacts the RDF for the next biennium House Speaker Joe Straus of San Antonio received a parliamentary inquiry from State Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa.
    He wanted a record vote because the move took money from the RDF for the next biennium.
    Straus explained that the House parliamentarian said SB 2 must pass with two-third of the vote on final passage.
    The House gave preliminary approval to SB 2 on a vote of 98-47, which is a two-thirds vote of members present. The final vote on third reading is expected on Friday.
    The vote tally can be viewed here by clicking on the record vote at the top: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Actions.aspx?LegSess=821&Bill=SB2
    The state’s $172.3 billion budget — with State Comptroller Susan Combs said Wednesday she could certify with existing proposals being passed —cuts $15 billion from the current biennium —$12 billion of it being federal stimulus money.
    Chisum factored into another small controversy during debate on SB 2.
    He moved to raise the pay of state Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson to $150,000, from $137,500. It received no floor debate.
    Several minutes later, Chisum asked to reconsider that. He withdrew it to applause from his colleagues.
    And proponents of small state government suffered another blow in SB 2.
    Lawmakers tabled a plan by State Rep. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, which killed it, to defund state funding to the Commission on the Arts.
    Perry defended House action on the Commission on the Arts from early April. At that time, lawmakers narrowly agreed to defund the commission. However, budget negotiators restored funding for the arts commission during the Regular Session.
    “We have to reprioritize what the functions of government are,” Perry said. “This is the session where we draw the line in the sand.”

    Members from both parties defended the arts commission for its work with local schools.
    Perry’s amendment to SB 2 was tabled on vote of 87-39.”

  3. Pingback: The Distractor Factor: Texas 82nd Legislature in Review, Part 2 « Education in Texas

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