Rainy Day Fund

Heflin: Most Sensible Solution Is Reduced Spending

More money is not the answer to our current woes. Just as anyone managing a household budget knows, when a family’s expenses grow beyond its income, the solution is to cut back — particularly if its spending habits resemble the state's.

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Castro: Start by Casting Aside Wishful Thinking

We need a balanced approach that uses our reserves and adds revenue. And we have to start by casting aside wishful thinking; we are writing the 2012-13 budget, with higher costs and increased enrollment in education and health care services — not some past budget.

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Texplainer: Is It Raining Yet?

The Texas Constitution says that money from the Rainy Day Fund can be spent to “prevent or eliminate a temporary cash deficiency in general revenue.” With the state facing a budget shortfall estimated somewhere between $15 billion and $27 billion, some say if it ain't raining now, it ain't ever going to.

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TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

The Trib staff on the sweeping cuts in the proposed House budget, Grissom on what's lost and not found at the Department of Public Safety, Galbraith on the wind power conundrum, Hamilton on higher ed's pessimistic budget outlook, Stiles and Swicegood debut an incredibly useful bill tracker app, Ramsey interviews Rick Perry on the cusp of his second decade as governor, Aguilar on a Mexican journalist's quest for asylum in the U.S., Ramshaw on life expectancy along the border, M. Smith on the obstacles school districts face in laying off teachers and yours truly talks gambling and the Rainy Day Fund with state Rep. Jim Pitts: The best of our best from January 17 to 21, 2011.

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 Illustration by Todd Wiseman

What 99 Means

When a party wins everything, as the GOP has in Texas this year, it gets almost everything its way. It also has everything to lose.

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The Ditch: How We Got Into It

Even though we fared better than other states, lawmakers face a budget shortfall of $10 billion or more when they return to Austin in 2011. Ben Philpott — who covers politics and public policy for KUT News and the Tribune — looks at the shortfall and proposed solutions.

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What are the Odds?

Start with a shortfall and a Legislature that doesn't want to raise taxes, then dangle budget-balancing money from "volunteers" — a.k.a., gamblers. With that strategy, promoters think they've got their best shot in years to legalize slot machines while adding $1 billion a year to state revenues.

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The Last Time Around

How will lawmakers deal with a budget shortfall of at least $11 billion — and maybe several billion more — in the next legislative session? In all likelihood, by doing what they did in 2003, when things were almost this bad.

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Cloudy with a Chance of Money

The Rainy Day Fund seems like weather word play waiting to happen. It can plug holes in the budget, defend against an economic perfect storm and keep the deficit clouds at bay. That’s certainly how some see it when looking at the next biennium's projected shortfalls.

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