Hearing Tomorrow in Texas House on Using the Rainy Day Fund–You Can Help!

A modest first move toward finding the revenue to fill the state’s giant revenue hole is on the agenda of the House Appropriations Committee tomorrow. HB 275 by Rep. Jim Pitts, the Republican from Waxahachie who chairs the budget-writing panel, would use $4.3 billion of the $9.4 billion in the Rainy Day Fund exactly as it should be used, to help maintain essential public services and counter the revenue collapse triggered by the worst recession since World War II.

HB 275 would use only enough of this economic-stabilization fund to cover the current-year shortfall for fiscal 2011. However, the bill actually would mean $4.3 billion in 2012-2013 revenue won’t have to be used to pay the state’s 2011 bills. The effect is that HB 275 puts $4.3 billion back on the table for use in 2012-2013. To be sure, that’s just a start on what’s needed to close a revenue gap of $27 billion below the amount needed to maintain current services in 2012-2013. But you have to start somewhere.

It will take a three-fifths majority vote in each chamber of the legislature (90 votes in the House, 19 votes in the Senate) to use the Rainy Day Fund to cover the 2011 deficit. You can help win the needed votes by going to www.txcandobetter.org and signing our petition for a balanced approach to balancing the state budget. You also can send a letter from the Texas AFT Web site urging lawmakers and Gov. Perry to support the revenue measures needed for Texas schoolchildren and families. Be on the lookout for further alerts that will let you know when urgent action is required as this budget battle continues.