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Summary: HB 11 would move $2 billion from the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) to the State Water Implementation Fund (SWIFT) created earlier this session when the Legislature passed HB 4.
Analysis: We oppose HB 11. This legislation constitutes a raid on the ESF incompatible with the purpose of the ESF, which is designed to act as a backstop against budget cycles when general revenue inflow does not meet state spending obligations. With more than $8 Billion in general revenue on hand, Texas has plenty of money available to fund state priorities. We are not persuaded that there is a limited government case to be made for raiding the ESF for the purpose of funding the SWIFT.
We agree that there is a case to be made for Texas to spend money on water infrastructure development. Indeed, with a rapidly growing population and the certainty that the state will occasionally experience periods of severe drought, we are persuaded that Texas must make water infrastructure a high priority. This priority should be balanced against other state priorities; including transportation, education, and entitlement programs, and paid for out of general revenue.
Our position, based on our principle of limited government is that Texas should:
Recommendation: We recommend legislators oppose HB 11. We would support an amendment to reduce the amount of the appropriation to a level that keeps spending well below the constitutional spending cap.