May 3, 2011
Contact: Peter Clark, Peter.Clark@house.state.tx.us, (512) 463-0532 (o), (512) 417-9262 (c)
Right-Wing Groups Confirm Rainy Day Fund is Better Choice Than Cutting Essential Services
Austin - Today Rep. Mike Villarreal was surprised to express his agreement with a statement by right-wing organizations that using the Rainy Day Fund is a better choice for the Legislature than cutting essential services. However, Rep. Villarreal disagreed with the right-wing organizations' view that cutting public education by 21% and nursing homes by 31% does not qualify as cutting essential services, and he urged the Texas Senate to use the Rainy Day Fund for the current budget.
In a letter to the Texas Legislature in 2009, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, and other right-wing groups said:
The balance in the Economic Stabilization Fund [Rainy Day Fund] should continue to accumulate and be held in reserve to address future potential shortfalls as a consequence of the current economic downturn. Comptroller Susan Combs has warned that the impact of the financial crisis will be felt not in the 2010‐11 state budget, but two years from now as the 82nd Texas Legislature writes the 2012‐13 budget. Retaining the entire balance in the Economic Stabilization Fund is important so that the state does not have to cut essential programs or raise taxes in response to an anticipated budget shortfall in 2011.
We do not wish House Bill 6 and hurricane recovery to fail. We simply urge you to save the Economic Stabilization Fund for the next budget cycle, and to repair hurricane‐damaged state facilities through other means.
Today several of the same groups explained that they believe that none of the Rainy Day Fund should be used for the budget the Legislature is currently writing because the budget proposed by the House "does not raise taxes, does not cut essential programs — and does not demand a penny of the Rainy Day Fund." The House budget that the groups say "does not cut essential programs" is $8 billion short of fully funding public schools and would force thousands of nursing homes to close.
"Even these right-wing groups agree that the Legislature faces a choice and that using the Rainy Day Fund is better than cutting essential programs," said Rep. Villarreal. "Unfortunately, they don't believe education and care for seniors in nursing homes is essential. It is now up to the Senate to decide."