Incompetent of evil? That’s the question blogger Atrios often asks about those in charge of our financial sector. The same could be asked at the state level. At issue is whether or not Texas Comptroller Susan Combs is really bad at her job, or she’s bad on purpose. Via this post from a conservative blogger, Longing for Bullock.
So the rumors swirling around Austin is that revenue projections are up. Meaning next session will not be as painful as the last session. As matter of fact some are saying that the state will have quite a surplus – it is projected today to be more than $7 billion. As I understand it, that means it could be $12 billion more than Comptroller Susan Combs projected when law makers return to Austin in January of 2013. That is without the rainy day fund – I hear that fund could have so much money in it that it will be capped next year – where the money goes after it is capped is anyone’s guess but that is for another post.
My point is this; the Texas Comptroller’s only real responsibility is to project what legislators can spend each biennium. In this, case Susan Combs tells the legislature how much they can spend for the next two years. She has hundreds, maybe thousands of employees that help her do that. And she missed it by $12 billion? That is not a little miss – THAT IS A MAJOR F*CKUP MISS!
That covers the incompetent argument but what about the evil you ask?
Well I am no expert and don’t pretend to be but if the legislators knew that they were going to have an additional $12 billion to spend do you think they would have had to have cut education everyone is bitching about? Would they have had to cut local trauma care, Medicaid, DPS, Etc.
And why was she so conservative on her budget projection? Because she missed the one before last by $15 billion! So she was not going to let that happen again so she screwed your local schools and teachers.
He then points to today’s AAS article, State tax collections soar, setting up chance for record budget surplus.
The robust tax collections in 2012 have already blown the official estimates out of the water, and 2013 should add to that surplus, said Dale Craymer, an economist and president of the business-backed Texas Taxpayers and Research Association.
In early 2011, Combs notified legislators that they quickly had to close a $4.3 billion deficit in the budget. They filled most of that hole with money from the state’s rainy day fund, then set about reducing spending by $14 billion in the 2012-13 budget.
But Combs reported in December that the state actually started the 2012-13 budget with an unanticipated $1.6 billion in the bank due largely to the oil and gas boom, and she added to that balance with the $3.7 billion announced Wednesday.
Craymer said he expects a message of continued growth coming from Combs in January.
“It would not surprise me if lawmakers were told: ‘We now have a record surplus,’?” Craymer said.
The current high-water mark is the $8.8 billion surplus reported at the end of 2007, he said.
The surplus sums should be plenty to cover the $4.7 billion Medicaid tab that lawmakers left unpaid as well as other supplemental obligations, including the cost of responding to last year’s wildfires. Legislators had been eyeing $8 billion in the rainy day fund to pay for those costs.
What to do with the rest of a potential surplus will probably be a source of intense debate when the Legislature convenes in January.
This is what was know over the weekend, Surplus, bulging Rainy Day Fund, looking likely for next Texas budget.
If that’s the case next year, at least a $5 billion surplus and $11 bilion in the Rainy Day Fund, that should change the budget conversation in 2013. Instead of talking about more cuts, the talk should turn to reversing the austerity of the previous session. Especially as it relates to education and health care.
The GOP is not going to be in any hurry to refund public education in Texas. The only way to get this done is to elect those who believe in public education to office. The only candidate in Williamson County running for legislative office that’s committed to doing that is Matt Stillwell. He deserves your vote if reversing the GOP’s devastating austerity agenda is important you.
Much of the budgetary problems Texas has faced in recent years is the result of GOP tax swap scheme of 2006, which has resulted in an annual $5 billion structural deficit. Their budgetary policies of diversions, swaps, and austerity is hurting Texas and can’t continue.
It doesn’t matter how much money we have in this state, in surplus or Rainy Day Fund, it’s unlikely that our current crop of elected officials are going to be in any kind of hurry to reverse what they did last session. As stated before, “”They haven’t been fighting for decades to destroy public education, finally do what they’ve been intending, just to turn around and reverse course two years later”. I know my answer to the question.