April 21, 2011
Senator Kirk Watson released the following statement today on the Senate Finance Committee’s passage of the General Appropriations Act for 2012-13:
I want to thank Senator Ogden and the members of the Finance Committee for their hard work.
Unfortunately, this proposal paints a grim picture that I can’t support.
This Senate budget is far removed from Texans, their priorities, and their history. It strips billions of dollars from schools, universities, and millions of Texans who don’t have as much political power in the Capitol as they should.
But more than that, the proposal simply tries to throw a rug over the cracked foundation of the state’s finances. It fails to shore up the structural problems that have become an open secret at the Capitol. It perpetuates many of the short-sighted practices that bear real responsibility for the state’s current budget mess. And it contains none of the reforms that the state needs in order to avoid repeating this crisis in two years.
Even the Finance Committee Chairman has rightly noted structural changes that must occur to fix the state’s finances, create a plan that funds basic priorities, and ensure the budget is not only balanced but sustainably balanced. He needs time – and the legislature needs to take the time – to make the improvements we all should know are necessary.
Unfortunately, this bill’s main selling point seems to be that it’s better than another, even less acceptable plan – that it’s good simply by being less bad. But compared to anything else – Texans’ priorities, Texas’ history, and even the status quo – the Senate plan remains unworthy of this state and its people.
So this proposal shouldn’t be treated like it’s a victory – or even as though it’s the best we can do. And no one should accept this budget simply because it could be worse. Right now, we need honesty, accountability and real leadership, even knowing how great the challenge is. And we all need to work together to fix what those in control of the Capitol have broken.
Even if we have to work into the summer to do it.