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Tea Party Fights Republicans Over Texas' Rainy Day Fund

Texas Tribune

There’s a debate right now over what Texas lawmakers should do with the money in the Rainy Day Fund. The fund was set up in the 1980s to smooth out the differences from times of oil boom and bust.

Some see now as a boom time, because of the growth of energy production from hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," but others see the threat of stormy times ahead.

Some fiscal conservatives don’t like the talk they’re hearing from Texas lawmakers about taking money out of the Rainy Day Fund.

Senate Republican leaders propose using $6 billion – close to half the fund's value -- to pay for new water and road projects.

There’s more money in the Rainy Day Fund now, largely because fracking has led to more more oil and gas production in Texas. Now, the Governor thinks there’s more in the fund than it needs.

But the head of the Texas TEA Party Caucus Advisory Committee, JoAnn Fleming, says the Rainy Day Fund should be used to shelter the state from the need for outside help and to protect Texas from the effects of a literal “Rainy Day.”

“We need to preserve the Rainy Day Fund in case we have a hurricane that shuts down the Port of Houston," she said. "Instead of our elected officials looking at their watch as they did in New Jersey, waiting for FEMA and the federal government to show up, we believe our state leaders should keep the Rainy Day Fund intact.”

Senator Kel Seliger, Republican from Amarillo, is calling for a Constitutional Amendment to designate three percent of the Rainy Day Fund to a transportation fund that would pay to fix roads damaged by all the truck traffic resulting from fracking. 

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