Op-Ed: King Discusses Texas Budget

January 5, 2013

Weatherford Telegram

State Representative Phil King

The Texas Legislature recently convened and there are many issues that need to be addressed. However, our first order of business, as required by the Texas Constitution, is to pass a balanced budget for the 2014-15 biennium.

Before we begin debating the budget for the upcoming biennium, we must close out the current budget year. Walking into this session, Texas faces $6.78 billion in unfunded obligations for 2013. Although an $8.8 billion cash surplus remains on hand, we will have to use these funds to cover those outstanding obligations, which include items such as a shortfall in Medicaid funds, wildfire costs and satisfying a school payment that was deferred to August 2013.

The Economic Stabilization Fund, commonly called the Rainy Day Fund, is a separate account that the state has the ability to access in certain situations. It will have a projected $11.8 billion by the end of 2014-15. This fund is an emergency reserve for one time uses and is not meant for recurring spending needs. Tapping into the Rainy Day Fund requires support of between three-fifths and two-thirds of the Legislature, depending on the purpose of the expenditures.

Although we are not facing a $27 billion shortfall as we were at the beginning of the last legislative session, we will still have to make some very hard financial decisions on issues such as water, transportation education and healthcare. This must all be done in a fiscally responsible manner that won’t break our budget. We must keep our spending under control to ensure Texas remains the number one place to do business and raise a family.