Rainy day proposal a departure
Lieutenant governor suggests using $1 billion to form a bank to help develop water facilities.
As Texas lawmakers prepare for another tough budget year, Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has floated the idea of tapping the state’s rainy day fund, a surprise suggestion considering most conservatives have spent years fighting to preserve it.
In the past, Gov. Rick Perry has made maintaining the fund’s $8.1 billion a top priority. When Democrats wanted to tap the fund last year to avoid cutting $5.4 billion in school funding, Perry said such a move was fiscally unwise.
Yet on Thursday, Dewhurst told the Dallas Regional Chamber that lawmakers should consider taking $1 billion from the fund to start a “water infrastructure development bank” to help cities and counties pay for environmental studies, permits and other groundwork for new construction. He said the fund could also help the state build more roads.
“I think, as a fiscal conservative, we could draw down a little bit and still keep a very healthy balance in the rainy day fund,” said Dewhurst, who presides over the Texas Senate.
Dewhurst was letting the public in on an idea circulating around the Capitol. No conservatives immediately denounced the suggestion and Perry’s spokeswoman said the governor was ready to talk about such solutions to the state’s water problems. Business and environmental groups praised the recommen-