Instead of helping the House Appropriations Committee clear a budget hurdle yesterday, Gov. Perry was campaigning with his rightwing base again. I think he knows the governor’s race is over, but dreams of a vice presidential nod apparently persist in the Perry camp.
In a teleconference with Texans for Fiscal Responsibility (a fancy name for a group that wants to shrink government, let the poor fend for themselves and see how many kids can be crammed into one classroom), Perry came up with still another excuse – Japan for not spending any of the Rainy Day Fund to avoid deep cuts in the public schools and health care.
Yes, the earthquake and tsunami on the other side of the Pacific have entered into the debate over the Texas budget. Texas isn’t considered at high risk for earthquakes, but we do have hurricanes, floods and tornadoes.
Referring to the tragedy in Japan, Perry said the Rainy Day Fund was Texas’ “insurance policy” against a major natural disaster.
The Rainy Day Fund could protect Texans from all kinds of disasters, but right now the biggest potential disaster facing our state is a $27 billion revenue shortfall that, if not bridged, could have crippling effects on the state’s future prosperity. The Legislature needs to deal with that emergency now. It would be irresponsible to keep $9.4 billion (the Rainy Day balance) in the bank while thousands of taxpaying teachers lose their jobs, thousands of taxpaying parents watch educational quality take a hit and the state’s already thin safety net splits open.