There is still a very long way to go in the Legislature’s budgetwriting process, but eversosteadily, a sense of sanity (or political preservation) is growing under the Capitol dome. (At least under the legislative portion of the dome, anyway.)
The latest example occurred this morning with Rep. John Zerwas, the point man for health and human services on the House Appropriations Committee, said he would spend most of the Rainy Day Fund to lessen cuts in health care, education and other critical public services.
During a Liveblog appearance with The Texas Tribune, Zerwas said he would come close, perhaps within $1 billion, of spending all the Rainy Day Fund because “it’s raining.” With the fund projected to have a record balance of $9.4 billion by the end of the next budget cycle, Zerwas presumably is talking about spending about $8 billion.
TSTA believes the Legislature should spend all $9.4 billion as well as find additional revenue to minimize the potential spending reductions that threaten the jobs of thousands of educators, the quality of classroom instruction and the health of tens of thousands of school kids.
But Zerwas is making a big step in the right direction.
The governor, when last we heard, was still preaching cuts, cuts and more cuts, while talking about “protecting” the Rainy Day Fund, rather than spending it. Protect it from what?
If he goes home after passing a budget with devastating service cuts, while leaving most of the Rainy Day Fund in the bank, Zerwas said, “I’m going to get a spanking.”
And so should they all.