I received an Email from a friend that I wanted to share with you. It was regarding the elected Republican unwillingness to cut the size of government and plunder the rainy day fund, also known as the “we tax the people to much fund.”
Hilderbran: Use Rainy Day Fund appropriately, and only for intended purpose
This week, the governor, state comptroller, and House speaker announced a plan to withdraw up to $3.2 billion from the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund in order to help cover the $4 billion shortfall Texas faces this year. This is the appropriate decision for our current economic problem, but we must find other alternatives for addressing the $13 billion shortfall projected over the next two years.
In 1988, voters approved the creation of the Rainy Day Fund, as it is more commonly known, via an amendment to the Texas Constitution. Severance tax revenue from natural gas and oil production, as well as surpluses in general revenue, supply the fund. According to the Texas Constitution, this money may be used to “prevent or eliminate a temporary cash deficiency in general revenue.” That is exactly what we are facing now, and using the fund for its intended purpose is sound fiscal policy.
Notice it said “According to the Texas Constitution, this money may be used to “prevent or eliminate a temporary cash deficiency in general revenue.” It did not say “prevent or eliminate a temporary cash deficiency in general revenue due to over spending.”
Just as families across the state have to dip into their savings account to pay their bills, the Legislature must also dip into its own savings account to help cover what we owe this year. This it is not an unheard of practice. In 2003 and 2005 the Legislature passed – and the governor signed – bills that authorized spending billions from the fund. It was an appropriate use then, and it is an appropriate use now.
In August, Texas will owe nearly $3 billion in state employee salaries and payments for Medicaid-type assistance, and $1.5 billion to the Foundation School Program, which is the main program for funding local schools. No amount of budget cuts will bring in this kind of money in only five months. Either we access part of the $9.4 billion in already-collected revenue that is in the Rainy Day Fund, or we don’t pay our bills on time. Since we have the ability to pay on time, we should.
This year’s budget shortfall came because the state did not bring in as much revenue as projected in the state comptroller’s good-faith estimate. In other words, we simply didn’t generate as much money from the tax system as we honestly thought that we would. As a result, we don’t have enough revenue available to pay the bills that will be due in August. However, this is not the case for the $13 billion shortfall projected over the next two years, and so the solutions are not the same. We cannot deplete the Rainy Day Fund just so that we can continue spending as much as we like.
I strongly disagree. We do not have a revenue problem – we have a spending problem. Yes, at times “we the people” must dip into savings to help cover our spending, but we also must cut back. We cannot continue to grow the size of government. Furthermore, if “we the people” over spend, it’s our money to over spend. The money our elected officials are spending is NOT theirs to spend.
At the same time, a tax bill will not come out of the House Committee on Ways and Means, which I chair. I do not believe that the Legislature should put the burden of the state’s temporary revenue and spending problems on the backs of hardworking Texans by adding new taxes and hurting our economy. Instead, we must look at other ways of enhancing our revenue while also making tough decisions about budget cuts.
Again, we do NOT need to enhance our revenue, we need to cut the size of government.
For example, we can bring in additional revenue by encouraging compliance with tax laws, increasing tax penalties, closing loopholes to address inequalities in the tax code, strengthening the audit system, and changing collection timelines. One such piece of legislation is House Bill 257, which I introduced earlier this month. This bill would bring in $72 million by accelerating the collections process on unclaimed property. Right now, individuals have up to seven years to claim money orders before those funds revert back to the state. My legislation would shorten that time to three years.
This sounds like a left wing socialist. Hilderbran say’s that “we can bring in additional revenue by encouraging compliance with tax laws, increasing tax penalties, closing loopholes to address inequalities in the tax code, strengthening the audit system, and changing collection timelines.” This is using the strong arm of big govorment to squeeze the business owner and we the people. Does this sound like someone that agrees with the basic Republican Party Principles?
For those of you who need to review here are the 10 basic Republican Party Principles.
I am a Republican because:
- I believe the strength of our nation lies with the individual and that each person’s dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored.
- I believe in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed, sex, age or disability.
- I believe that free enterprise and the encouragement of individual initiative have brought this nation opportunity, economic growth and prosperity.
- I believe government must practice fiscal responsibility and allow individuals to keep more of the money they earn.
- I believe the proper role of government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations and that the best government is that which governs least.
- I believe the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.
- I believe Americans must retain the principles that have made us strong while developing new and innovative ideas to meet the challenges of changing times.
- I believe Americans value and should preserve our national strength and pride while working to extend peace, freedom and human rights throughout the world.
- Finally, I believe the Republican Party is the best vehicle for translating these ideals into positive and successful principles of government.
While legislation such as this will be beneficial in closing the budget gap, we must also be realistic about what we can afford and what we cannot. We must make sure that we fully fund our priorities, starting with public education. While budget cuts are never popular, the legislature has to do exactly what families across Texas are doing right now – separating our “wants” from our “needs.”
After all this, he has one small, weak sentence that put out the possibility that they might look at budget cuts.
It may be raining hard now, but the Legislature has the power to ensure the rain does not continue for another two years. Strong fiscal conservatism, serious proposals for enhancing revenue without raising taxes, and responsible budget cuts will allow us to put away the umbrella.
Let me be clear here to all our elected. Either shrink the size of government and stand with “we the people”, or stand with the BIG government elected and get run over by “we the people.” If you like your job’s, then stop representing the state and represent the people.