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Zerwas' Rainy Day Proposal Draws Conservative Critics [Updated]

Republican Rep. John Zerwas' suggestion that he'd get a "spanking" in his district if he cut education and health care to the bone but didn't touch the Rainy Day Fund has drawn the ire of one conservative activist group: Michael Quinn Sullivan's Empower Texans.

State Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton, at TribLive on February 23, 2011.

Republican Rep. John Zerwas' suggestion Wednesday that he'd get a "spanking" in his district if he cut education and health care to the bone but didn't touch the Rainy Day Fund has drawn the ire of one conservative activist group: Michael Quinn Sullivan's Empower Texans

In a release titled "Dr. Z's Bad Medicine," Sullivan compared Zerwas' suggestion, made at a Texas Tribune Triblive event, to the "pills pushed by the AFL-CIO and other liberals wanting to keep government growing." Sullivan said Zerwas' claim that using much of the fund would dull the edge of the budget process amounts to "an overdose of irresponsibility." 

In a line of questioning on the budget on Wednesday, Zerwas, a Simonton anesthesiologist, said he'd come close — maybe even within $1 billion — of depleting the Rainy Day Fund, because his constituents believe "it's raining." He said if he returns to the voters with a budget this slim, and $5 billion in the bank, "I'm going to get a spanking." 

Sullivan clearly disagrees. 

"Sorry, Dr. Z.," Sullivan wrote in his press release, "but taxpayers are demanding responsible solutions, not fiscal narcotics, from the Republican supermajority." 

We haven't heard back from Zerwas' office — but the AFL-CIO did respond to Sullivan's comments, saying the organization is not calling for growing government, but for "preserving basic services." 

"We're on the 'balanced approach' team, which acknowledges that part of the budget gap will be closed with cuts," said AFL-CIO Communications Director Ed Sills. 

Sills said Zerwas is hardly the only Republican to suggest tapping into the Rainy Day Fund. If he's too liberal for Sullivan's group, Sills said, "they must not have many friends left in the Legislature." 

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