The final versions HB 1025 and SB 1 were considered today on the House Floor to put in place a final budget for the biennium. I unfortunately had to vote no on both of these bills because by the time they made it through the legislative process the bills produced a budget that increased spending dramatically. Senior members such as Phil King and Chairman John Smithee, along with 29 others joined me in voting no.
When we initially voted on SB 1 back in April, I voted for the bill with a majority of my fellow representatives and was under the impression that while it was a little bit higher than I would have liked, it was a sound budget that fulfilled our needs as a state. Since April, this main component of our budget increased another $3 Billion.
I also voted yes on the initial version of HB 1025, as there were many good components to this bill. Unfortunately, the final version of this bill was bloated as well, including taking $1.75 Billion out of the Rainy Day Fund for recurring spending — putting our state’s credit rating at risk.
HB 1025 was a difficult vote in that it included funding for some of my top priorities including water, rural roads (damaged by oil and gas production) and volunteer firefighters. However, had this bill failed, these would not have gone unfunded as the Governor would have been forced to call as Special Session to work out these issues to pass the budget. I could not vote for a bad bill just because it contained provisions I like. That is how the federal government in Washington DC got us into the mess we are in.
When I was sworn in this January, I never thought I would oppose a major appropriations bill this Session. We came in with good reports from the comptroller (due to a record amount of money collected from taxpayers in Texas), our finances were in good shape and all indications were we would have a fiscally sound budget that would fund all of our pressing obligations including education, water and transportation without having to tap the rainy day fund. This did not happen.
As legislators we must make tough decisions each Session that directly affect everyone in the State of Texas. I could not with a clear conscience support a budget that went billions of dollars beyond what was necessary through moving money around with accounting tricks, after campaigning against this exact practice.