Texas Republicans to propose tapping rainy day fund for border wall
As President Donald Trump brings his campaign for border wall funding to El Paso Monday, two state lawmakers have suggested tapping the state’s rainy day fund for billions of dollars to pay for a wall on the Texas-Mexico border.
State Reps. Kyle Biedermann, R-Fredericksburg, and Briscoe Cain, R-Deer Park, are eying $2.5 billion for wall construction, according to a report in Breitbart News.
Biedermann’s chief of staff Karin Dyer told the American-Statesman that the lawmaker is “working on legislation to fund the border wall using the rainy day fund and will be filing it when it is finalized.”
Biedermann told Breitbart that the money would be used “to design, test, construct, and install physical barriers, roads, and technology along the international land border between the state of Texas and Mexico to prevent illegal crossings in all areas.”
Cain did not immediately return a request for comment. Dyer said Biedermann was unavailable for an interview on Monday.
The in-the-works proposal by Biedermann and Cain, members of the Texas Freedom Caucus, comes as Democrats and Republicans in Washington war over funding for a border wall.
Trump is scheduled to appear in El Paso on Monday for his first political rally of the year. Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, an El Paso Democrat and possible presidential candidate, is expected to appear at a counter-rally in El Paso.
During Trump’s last visit to Texas, a month ago, he revealed that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick suggested Texas could help build the wall and be reimbursed by the federal government, something Trump said was “not the worst idea I’ve ever heard.”
Patrick did not speak publicly about the suggestion, and Gov. Greg Abbott, nor any other state leader has brought up the idea.
The proposal by Biedermann and Cain would be the latest suggestion by Republicans to dip into the state’s emergency savings account for big- and small-ticket items. GOP lawmakers in recent years had been reluctant to touch the fund, which now tops $12 billion.
Already, lawmakers have proposed using rainy day money to subsidize retired teachers health insurance, boost state employees’ pensions, improve state hospital facilities, subsidize medicaid and reimburse state agencies and school districts for Hurricane Harvey-related spending, among other things.
Patrick, who presides over the Senate, has said he expects lawmakers to tap the fund for one-time expenses, but it’s not clear how much he and other fiscal hawks would be comfortable spending from it.
The rainy day fund was set up in the late 1980s as a management tool to smooth out a volatile source of revenue — oil- and gas-related tax collections.
The Texas comptroller estimates the fund will have a balance of $15.4 billion by August 2021.
(c)2019 Austin American-Statesman, Texas
Visit Austin American-Statesman, Texas at www.statesman.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.