David Dewhurst Spinning Lies that Texas Didn't Need Stimulus Dollars to Balance the Budget

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Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst wrote an op-ed in today's Austin American-Statesman where he attempts to spin a lie that Texas didn't need stimulus dollars to balance the budget.

From his op-ed:

Given recent comments about our state's budget, I feel it is time to separate fact from political fiction. The fact is, in stark contrast to the U. S. Congress, the Texas Constitution requires the Legislature to balance the state budget every two years, and that would have happened with or without any federal stimulus dollars.

In 2007, I led the effort to save $7 billion to balance the revenue shortfall we anticipated this year.

So it's simply political fiction that stimulus dollars were necessary to balance our budget.

OK then Dewhurst — how would you have balanced the budget without using the $14 billion in federal stimulus dollars?

To balance the budget, he's either got to cut spending or raid the Rainy Day Fund — but the Rainy Day Fund wouldn't have filled a $14 billion budget hole. So what would Dewhurst have cut?

Kicked more kids off of CHIP?

Further gutted public education spending?

Dewhurst has no answer to this at all.

Meanwhile — while Dewhurst is out spinning lies to cover his and every other Texas Republican's political hide when Rick Perry is rallying against Washington at the same time he's accepting $14 billion to fill a budget hole that he created — his Senate Finance Chair, Steve Ogden, is actually telling the truth.

From the Fort Worth Business Press:

“In order to balance the budget this biennium, which is $182 billion, we used $14 billion in federal stimulus money to balance it,” said Sen. Steve Ogdenm R-Bryan. “We're not expecting a similar amount of similar money to be available in the next two years because the federal government just doesn't have it. So, assuming that's true, you go into the next session with a $14 billion hole.”

According to the State Comptroller's office, Texas requested and was allocated almost $20 billion in federal stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment ACt, and has so far been awarded about $13 billion. About $3.6 billion has been received, and nearly all of the received funds have been spent.

If David Dewhurst really wants to claim that Texas didn't need the stimulus funds, then he should produce a budget that shows what he would have cut. But he'll never do that, because this isn't about leadership or fiscal responsibility or being honest about how Texas Republicans play a shall game with Texas' taxpayer dollars.

It's about political power, and political wars — and Dewhurst, Perry, Strauss, and every other Texas Republican is going to rally against Big Bad Washington while silently singing President Obama and the Democratic Congress' praises that they bailed Texas out of a massive $14 billion budget hole.

Don't believe Dewhurst' spin — and don't believe it when you hear it repeated for the next year in the press, in local elections, in campaign forums, or on the campaign trail. The Republican-led legislature was only able to balance the budget because of federal stimulus dollars.

Remember — I didn't say it. The Republican Senate Finance Chair did.

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About Author

Phillip Martin

Currently the Research and Policy Director for Progress Texas and the Texas Research Institute, Phillip Martin writes occasional long-form pieces for BOR that promote focused analysis and insight into Texas politics. Born and raised in Austin, Phillip started working in politics in 2003 and started writing on BOR in the summer of 2005. Phillip has worked for the Texas Democratic Trust, the Texas Legislative Study Group, and now the Progress Texas family. He is a lifelong Houston Astros fan, a loyal Longhorn, and loves swimming at Barton Springs Pool.

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