Letter from the President: Governor Agrees to Use Rainy Day Fund

Breaking News, Governor Agrees to Use Rainy Day Fund

The Legislature has begun to legislate and it is time for the voice of business to be heard.

Very few in the business community want higher taxes and a predicted shortfall for the two years ahead no doubt will mean reduced services. On top of that we now know that for the past two years the recession has taken its toll and that the current state budget is demonstrably short by at least $3.2 billion if not much more.

The House Appropriations Committee, chaired by Jim Pitts, has taken action to address the shortfall. It will recommend the use of the “rainy day” fund to pay the debt, not higher taxes. Texas doesn’t print money, and it doesn’t issue “chits,” it pays its bills.  Leaders lead and the chairman deserves commendation for taking this first step towards fiscally responsible action.

In late breaking news this afternoon, Governor Perry, leading efforts for efficiency in State government spending has agreed that the fund should be utilized at the $3.2 billion level.   Earlier reports suggested that up to $4.3 billion of the fund might be requested by the Appropriation Committee.

There are some members of the House who have yet to commit to using the rainy day fund. Part of the reluctance is philosophical and some of it is pragmatic. They do not wish to commit too early to using rainy day funds until they are certain that the state budget has been scrubbed absolutely raw for cuts.  (That scrubbing continues on the current budget as well as the one to come.)

The day of reckoning is here.  The fund must be tapped to pay the debt.

But, to use the rainy day fund the House of Representatives must find 90 votes in favor and that’s not easy, even if it is necessary, so…

We are asking you to “take action” by letting members of the Legislature know that the fiscally responsible thing to do at this point is to use a portion of the rainy day fund to retire Texas’ pending debt. The members need to hear from you.  We have made it easy for you to write (email) them on our “take action” page found in the Public Policy section of our website. Just a couple of mouse clicks will take you to an already prepared letter which lets members know that as hard as it is to do, they will do the right thing by using the rainy day fund to retire the debt.

As the session progresses pressure will no doubt build for further uses of the rainy day fund to ease the tremendous strains now on state agencies, including public educational institutions, to provide services we need, but with reduced funding.  Our various policy committees are studying these issues very closely as so much is a stake and will have recommendations later.

In the meantime there are two other action items which need the support of the business community now.

First, economic development.  We need your help to protect the tools which our economic development team regularly uses to attract new companies to Dallas and the region.  The Texas Enterprise Fund keeps us in the game and fully engaged on the playing field in the highly competitive world of corporate relocations.  Without it we (and Texas) will be sidelined.  That is not an overstatement, it is real.

Another tool, which has experienced some “process” issues, is the Emerging Technologies Fund, (ETF.) The ETF is an ideal economic development tool for this area because it is used to advance companies in the tech area, an area of great strength for the Dallas region.    We do not want to lose this valuable economic tool for “process” reasons.  The legislature and state leadership are engaged in finding a “process” cure.   We need to add our voices at this time to the efforts to keep the Emerging Technologies Fund in place.

You can write a letter to protect these two economic development tools to keep Texas competitive by clicking here.

Second, two road issues.

Road issue number one:   State Highway 183 is the southern approach to DFW Airport. Its traffic count is huge and growing. Even if we start right away we are five to seven years away from completion. Since public funding for improvements are not available for the build out, innovative financing mechanisms such as public-private partnerships are the remaining viable alternatives.

Road issue number two:   to address the serious bottleneck occurring between Dallas to Denton, there is the I-35 / Denton project, another access issue of great importance to all of DFW which also will need to be solved by a public-private partnership.  Click here to be taken to letters about those projects.

Our greatly improved public policy website allows you to edit and change the letters you send to reflect your style and your take on these issues.  And, it even allows you to create and address your own email letters to federal or state officials on issues of importance to your particular business.

We encourage you to visit the public policy website often to find new issues to write about to our state and federal officials.   Now is the time for officials to hear from you.

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