05.10.13

An editorial that makes no sense

Posted in 83rd Legislature, Around The State, Had Enough Yet?, The Budget, The Lege at 10:31 am by wcnews

This is a ludicrous editorial, Texas Dems hold water money hostage for school funding. Let me get this straight, we’re supposed to believe that the Democrats – who are in the minority in both houses and hold no statewide office – are responsible for holding up the water bill? I call BS.

State Rep. Lon Burnam, a Fort Worth Democrat, and I have a simmering disagreement over the House’s failure to finance a 50-year water plan. Burnam and other Democrats say they won’t give up water funding until they get school funding in trade.

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The money for water infrastructure and more is available in the state’s almost $12 billion rainy-day fund. The idea is to put that much in a revolving fund to help entities across the state sell bonds for water projects. Burnam and others are blocking the way.

“House Democrats believe Texas should first restore the $5.4 billion cut from public education before spending money from the Rainy Day Fund for other issues,” Burnam and Rep. Chris Turner wrote in a letter to the editor published last week. “And since a drawdown from the Rainy Day Fund requires the support of two-thirds of the House, the minority party has more leverage than usual — and we intend to use that leverage to help our schoolchildren.”

I say the Dems are wrong. I don’t blame them for their tactics, but it’s not smart to use rainy-day fund money to pay for ongoing operation of schools.

Rainy-day money should be used either in a crisis or in one-time allocations to pay for things that won’t have to be paid for over and over again. If it’s used to help restore the $5.4 billion cut from schools two years ago, that same hole will have to be filled again when the Legislature meets in 2015, and again in 2017, and again in 2019, and so forth.

Burnam and others have told me it’s worth the risk that they’ll be able to come back in two years and find more stable funding. I don’t buy that.

Texas has the money this year to adequately and properly fund schools. If lawmakers choose not to do that, or if their definition of adequate funding differs from what educators or others might say, that’s their responsibility.

But it shouldn’t come from the rainy-day fund, and it shouldn’t block passage of the proposed one-time funding for water infrastructure.

So the Democrats want a deal to vote for the using the RDF to pay for water. Which begs the question, why does the GOP need the Democrats at all?  Well, it’s because too many of their members don’t want to spend any money from the RDF, and their earlier scheme to fund water out of GR (General Revenue) failed.  Here’s the answer, if the entire GOP caucus in the House (95 members) was for using $2 billion from the RDF to fund water, it’s entirely likely they could peel of 5 – 10 Democrats and get it passed. But the GOP is so far away from that getting all 95 R’s that they need many more Democrats then that.

And in politics, often times, to get someone to get to yes there needs to be compromise. So it’s looks totally “parisan hackish” to blame the powerless minority, when the powerful majority can’t even keep itself in check. Why is it that the Democrats are to blame and the ones that have to compromise their principals to pass Republican legislation? It makes no sense.

The blame for this lies directly with the tea party representatives, aka Perry and the wing nuts, and the voters that elected them.  They are the hostage takers. Again, we have $12 billion in reserves, even with another bad budget estimate from the Comptroller, and huge needs for water, transportation, public transportation, and health care.  And we’re being lead to believe that the best thing for our state is to leave that money alone, continue to neglect our priorities, and continue in the same downward spiral.  Again I call BS.

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