Like most states, the Great Republic is trying to come to grips with a drastic revenue shortfall from the recent economic slump as the legislature attempts to complete a balanced budget for the next two years. According to democrats, we’re “zillions upon zillions of dollars short.” Governor Perry, on the other hand, says “we’re about that close” while holding his thumb and index finger half an inch apart. That may be right . . . assuming that half inch of space holds a stack of billion dollar bills.
However, the future looks bright, as Texas has saved its money for just such an occasion. Starting in 1987, the state started stuffing money under a really large mattress and called it the “Rainy Day Fund.” With great foresight and brilliant conservative thinking, the fund now holds about 9 billion dollars. This would be enough money to fix a large portion of the budget shortfall.
Unfortunately, it turns out the Rainy Day Fund is more like a giant safe . . . buried somewhere in North Korea. Under a volcano guarded by flying monkeys, trap doors, voice recognition gates, and an oracle who will ask visitors three challenging questions about cricket. In Klingon. Backwards. And your answers must be in the form of a question. Yup, that’s right, Governor Perry and his conservative lawmaker brethren have decided we can’t touch the Rainy Day Fund.
I’m all in favor of fiscal conservative policy, but miserly-to-the-point-of-starvation policy? Let me ask you this, Mr. Governor: as you debate the budget, will you be burning large bundles of cash from the fund to keep the capitol warm? Or on the first day, perhaps every legislator gets a blanket full of bills to keep himself/herself warm at night? Or maybe you’re practicing origami in order to make umbrellas out of bills so the legislators don’t get wet when it rains?
I can picture a gaunt, shoeless child approaching the governor next year:
“Um, Mr. Governor sir, can I have a dollar for my school lunch? Wait where are you?”
“I’m over here,” a Rick Perry-ish voice says.
“Oh, I can’t see you behind those stacks of money.”
“It’s my fort. In case it rains. And in case the roof leaks.”
We’re in the worst economy since the Great Depression and the governor can’t even feel a sprinkle. Maybe he’s waiting for everyone to get struck by lightning first. Or swept completely away in the downpour. Maybe we’re saving it for the day Oklahoma springs a surprise nuclear attack on us. Then we’ll be able to rebuild the state or at least the Cotton Bowl so we can keep playing Oklahoma in football.
Governor Perry is quoted as saying, “Why in the world would we want to spend dollars just because they're sitting there…” Oh I don’t know, BECAUSE THEY’RE TAX DOLLARS and that’s what you do with tax dollars. Or you can give it back. At least the federal government spends the money we send it. (And then some.).
In fact, I would expect that to be the conservative argument: “We’re going to spend it on the budget or give it back.” But no, it’s “We’re going to cut your services to the bone while we build a giant cash playground in the Capitol that we can play in all day.”
Since Governor Perry refuses to touch the Rainy Day Fund, I can only conclude that he thinks Texas is in for a doomsday scenario so scary we can’t even picture it because to do so would sear our eyes and cause mass death and destruction.
Seriously, what’s the use in having a Rainy Day Fund if you don’t believe in rain?