State Sen. Kevin Eltife says what I suspect more than a few Republican legislators are thinking.
“We have to find more revenue,” the former Tyler mayor and senator of seven years said [Thursday] morning during a committee hearing. “It’s insane not use the Rainy Day Fund. We also have to find additional revenue.”
Republican leaders have been adamant about not raising additional revenue and Gov. Rick Perry insisted again in his state of the State address this week that “we must protect the Rainy Day Fund.”
The Senate Finance Committee has heard appeals from parents of children with disabilities and other distressing reports about the impact of severe budget cuts on human services, including health care. The committee is now in the process of hearing testimony about cuts to education.
“We have an investment in public education, higher education and health and human services,” Eltife said. “We have got to find the revenue to make these cuts less of a burden on Texans.
“There’s no other way to do this. We can dance around it all we want and talk about – oh, is it revenue, is it a tax, is it this, is it that? We have to find additional revenue,” he said. “We have to share the pain with cuts and revenue and the Rainy Day Fun. And any other idea in this building is crazy to me.”
Well, yes. We have a revenue problem, first and foremost. And as I’ve said before, the people talking the most loudly about the need for “pain” are largely exempt from it themselves as things stand right now. I couldn’t put it any better than Sen. Eltife has. And I’m glad to see that he’s beginning to have some company, though we’re still a long way from having the supermajority needed to use the Rainy Day Fund. What I am encouraged to see is this:
Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, said voters in his district are beginning to hear about the cuts and are calling his office flummoxed.
Taking a swipe at Perry, Keffer said many of them had been listening to the governor’s lofty campaign rhetoric and now see a different reality.
“I’m getting a lot of emails and phone calls from people who are surprised that we even have a budget problem at all based on what his campaign looked like,” Keffer said. “There’s a lot of people waking up to the fact that we have, not just a little deficit, but a big bear.”
Yes, Rick Perry has been lying to you. Please try to remember that the next time you go vote, OK? Thanks.
A few other items of note: Health and Human Services Commissioner Tom Suehs contradicts Governor Perry about the magnitude of the budget crisis, and tells the Senate that one of their money-saving ideas might actually cost a lot more in lost federal revenue. Abby Rapoport brings up the specter of another school finance lawsuit again. And the Trib looks at the difference between symbolic cuts and real ones.