Given recent comments about our state’s budget, I feel it is time to separate fact from political fiction. The fact is, in stark contrast to the U. S. Congress, the Texas Constitution requires the Legislature to balance the state budget every two years, and that would have happened with or without any federal stimulus dollars.
In 2007, I led the effort to save $7 billion to balance the revenue shortfall we anticipated this year.
So it’s simply political fiction that stimulus dollars were necessary to balance our budget.
“In order to balance the budget this biennium, which is $182 billion, we used $14 billion in federal stimulus money to balance it,” said Sen. Steve Ogden R-Bryan. “We’re not expecting a similar amount of similar money to be available in the next two years because the federal government just doesn’t have it. So, assuming that’s true, you go into the next session with a $14 billion hole.”
According to the State Comptroller’s office, Texas requested and was allocated almost $20 billion in federal stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and has so far been awarded about $13 billion. About $3.6 billion has been received, and nearly all of the received funds have been spent.
In Dewhurst’s defense, he was too busy doing other things and letting Sen. Kevin Eltife run the Senate to have had any idea about what was happening with the budget, so his confusion here is understandable. Thanks to BOR for the first two links. Burka has more.
UPDATE: Comptroller Susan Combs and Dewhurst himself also contradict his op-ed.