One of the few things many of my conservative Republican friends and I agree on is how much tax should be extracted from the people. I believe no more taxes should be assessed on voting citizens than is necessary to maintain the functions of government. If we are collecting too much, we should not put it in a savings account, but let the people keep it.
Recently the Republican leadership of Texas, led by Rick Perry, seemed hellbent on maintaining multi-billion dollar balances in the so-called Rainy Day Fund while many critical needs of the state go wanting. I suspect the only purpose of this, looking down the road for future slim budgeting cycles, is so that the leadership can draw on a taxpayer savings account and avoid having to face the possibility of looking at new or different taxes.
A great example of the foolishness of having a savings plan while critical needs go unattended is the current debate over highway funding in Texas. Without a doubt, our roads and bridges are getting in such bad shape that our highway commission is seriously contemplating returning some of them to gravel roads. Yet, the great debate rages in the Legislature about whether or not to take some of the money that is currently directed into the Rainy Day Fund and use it for infrastructure.
The ultraconservatives oppose taking one penny out of the Rainy Day Fund, apparently being unable to detect when a rainy day occurs in Texas. While preserving the Rainy Day Fund at the expense of education, health, infrastructure, highways and God knows what else, they stubbornly cling to the concept of stashing money away that is not needed for the current biennium–at least according to their budgetary view. This makes about as much sense as a family head-of-household--unable to afford to pay the rent, repair the roof, or fix the engine on their broke-down automobile--insisting on stashing away hundreds of dollars from each monthly paycheck in a savings account.
I still say, if our leadership doesn’t plan on using the money and can’t detect when Texas is in a rainy day situation, they should not be taking the money out of the pockets of taxpayers. A great case in point is the previous session where we ended up laying off hundreds of school personnel, doing away with many reforms related to class size, and in short, impairing the quality of public education in this state by refusing to tap into billions of dollars in the Rainy Day Fund.
A current proposal which has been suggested for submitting to the people would be to allow one-half of current revenue generated from natural resources to flow into the highway fund rather than going into the Rainy Day Fund. Hopefully, the proposition will receive the two-thirds vote of both houses so the people of Texas will have the opportunity to vote on this idea.
Our current leadership reminds me of the man who owned an umbrella but did not have sense enough to know when it was raining.