Tongues are hanging and licking lips over the reported $8.8 billion surplus the state has uncovered. Wish lists are dusted off, rewritten and cutely formatted to attract immediate attention. New suits are bought with what’s left of last year’s budget, shoes are spit-shined by the back of pants legs and that round trip bus ticket to Austin,Texas is a prized possession.
Perhaps a better mode of transportation to the state’s capitol would be a horse and buggy. Rushing to be first in this decisive battle of wits over how to spend the surplus is a waste of time. It’s already spent, or promised(Texas Monthly).
There’s some old baggage that needs to be claimed. Two years ago, they stripped the health care budget of needed funds, sought of speaking, in the hopes of balancing the budget. The budget was balanced, but Medicaid took a $4 billion hit that’s likely to be remedied this time around from that surplus.
While it may be true, Texas is indeed growing in population, that growth is mostly due to illegal immigration and that puts a damper on educational spending, which is now in the courts searching for a remedy. Education will have to share what’s left after Medicaid is taken care of, or if lawmakers flip flop on Obama-care, even ‘school choice’ has a chance of getting the nod.
In 2011, the budget deficit was $27 billion and gaining a surplus of $8.8 billion is not going to go that far, expecially when you consider providing water for the growing population is going to be just as costly as education.
Then comes those bad roads this new population growth will have to travel on, which has been ignored for quite some time now. Mechanics are tickled pink over the lack of funds available for transportation projects though. They’re smiling all the way to the bank.
Finally, there’s the overall budget, which will have to include some increases in states fees and licensing. Specifically targeted are vehicle registrations and automobile taxes, which should just about cover transportation.
That’s not going to go over well with most Texans, but hey, it will be, what it will be and guess what, all of this is relatively simple. It’s called living within our means.