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Study Sought on Effect of Possible Federal Funding Cuts

Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

A Texas lawmaker has filed legislation that would require the state to study the effects of cutting financial ties with the federal government.

Rep. James White, R-Hillister, said he filed HB 568 because the state needed to be prepared for the possibility that the federal government could not meet its financial obligations because of "fiscal dysfunction" in Washington, D.C.

Called the "Texas Self-Sufficiency Act," White's bill would create a select committee to look at the consequences of "a possible reduction in or elimination of federal funding" on the state budget, which gets about a third of its revenue from federal funding. The committee would be made up of legislators, budget experts and "citizens from the non-profit sector" appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor, speaker of the house, and state comptroller.

White said he viewed his proposal as an extension of a House interim committee's work to study the effects of sequestration in the state.

"We always talk about Tenth Amendment rights but there are Tenth Amendment responsibilities. If Texas is an independent nation or if we continue to be a part of the United States, which I am for, we still need to have a strong Texas," he said.

The legislation was not, White said, intended as a call for secession.

"We love the United States. We want to keep the 50 states together," he said. "We do not support secession, though a significant group of my constituents do."

The White House recently responded to secession petitions from nine states including Texas filed on its We the People website, asking for healthy debate, but to not let "that debate tear us apart." The petition for Texas secession received 125,746 signatures, though many of the individuals who signed were not actually from the state.

After the petition took off in November, Gov. Rick Perry also reaffirmed his opposition to the concept, saying through a spokeswoman that he "believes in the greatness of our Union and nothing should be done to change it."

Morgan Smith was an editorial intern and columnist at Slate in Washington, D.C., before moving to Austin to enter law school at the University of Texas in 2008. (She has put her degree on hold to join the Tribune's staff.) A native of San Antonio, she has a bachelor's degree in English from Wellesley College.
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