Surplus, bulging Rainy Day Fund, looking likely for next Texas budget

Posted in Around The State, Had Enough Yet?, Public Schools, The Budget at 1:02 pm by wcnews

It’s starting to look like the budget numbers will look significantly better in the legislative session next year, $5 Billion State SURPLUS Seen When Lawmakers Convene in January.

The good times are set to roll again at the State Capitol.

1200 WOAI news reports that the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the key figure when it comes to state spending and revenues, is expecting at least a $5 billion biennial surplus to await lawmakers when they arrive for the regular session in January.

That is a lot better than the $24 billion biennial deficit which forced major cuts in education and social services speding in the last budget.

“We are seeing a monthly sales tax collection report that shows us on trend to probably better $5 billion,” State Rep Harvey Hilderbran (R-Kerrville) told 1200 WOAI news.

Hilderbran credits the recovering economy, especially a booming retail economy, a quickly recovering housing market, and the Eagle Ford shale boom, which is pumping billions of dollars into the state’s Rainy Day Fund, which is replenished by oil revenues. [Emphasis added]

This and the fact that, as the article goes on to state, that it’s expected the Rainy Day Fund will “be overflowing with $11 billion in oilfield royalty revenue by the start of the 2013-2014 biennium”, will make budgeting in the upcoming legislative session much easier.

But, in the face of this good news, some are trying to downplay expectations. Cue Ross Ramsey, Texas’ budget picture may not be as dire as feared.

Texas is not floating in cash, but the doom and gloom offered by some of the state’s top budget writers might be overstating the trouble ahead.

Some analysts expect things to be tight but easier than they were in the 2011 session, which resulted in significant cuts.


Legislative sessions start with a tug of war over expectations. If lawmakers say money is relatively plentiful, they will attract a line of supplicants seeking cash for their programs. If they say it’s tight, the supplicants expect bad news, even if they still form a line.


The state hasn’t had a real surplus in years, and there’s not one now. The current budget includes Medicaid and public education cuts and a built-in deficit that will have to be addressed in January, before lawmakers write the next budget.

State leaders say the next budget will be tough, too. They’re building their dismal case for that, stressing the need to hold the line on spending.


Conservative groups like Americans for Prosperity and the Texas Public Policy Foundation are telling lawmakers to limit spending increases to something less than inflation plus population growth.

Liberal groups like the Center for Public Policy Priorities argue that prices of goods and services used by government rise faster than consumer prices, so the so-called limit would actually shrink government.

As for taxes, the arguments range from calls for a personal income tax to suggestions from business groups that the state’s taxes aren’t equal and uniform.

The odds of lawmakers fiddling with taxes are small, especially without a budget crisis.

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.

1 Comment »

  1. Eye on Williamson » Imcompetent or evil? said,

    September 13, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    […] 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 […]

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