Nix Prop 6 Press Conference

My statement at the Houston press conference for Nix Prop 6 today at 10am.

“The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale” – Thomas Jefferson

A message to our representatives:  You failed to in your Constitutional duty to balance the budget in 2011, and used accounting gimmicks to pass it in spite of its built-in shortfalls and against all our warnings. Then you came back to your districts and lied about it.  In November of 2011, to cover your lack of action on water, and because you had already overspent the budget, you put Prop 2 on the ballot asking the voters to approve $6 billion in evergreen debt that will saddle our children and grandchildren in perpetuity. [Prop 2:  “The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board in an amount not to exceed $6 billion at any time outstanding.”] To pass it, you exploited the drought of 2010-2011, and played upon Texans' very real concerns about water. The taxpayers narrowly authorized you to spend $6 billion on water development.  To date, those bonds have not been issued and still nothing has been done.  

To go farther back in time, you asked the taxpayers for, and received $2 Billion in funding for water projects in 2001.  [Prop 19: "The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board in an amount not to exceed $2 billion."] To date, there is still approximately $360 million of unspent funding because local governments cannot afford to take on more indebtedness to pay for water projects.  Why?  Because local governments are already saddled with record debt[1]

Texas currently has the second-highest[2] per person, local debt in the nation. As of 2011, taxpayers were $233 billion in the hole, with 83% held locally by cities, schools and water districts [3].

So now, Legislature, you're back.  And this time, you are asking for $2 billion for credit enhancements to incentive more indebtedness for local governments.  [Prop 6: “The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas to assist in the financing of priority projects in the state water plan to ensure the availability of adequate water resources.”] The funds will lure local governments into issuing even more debt – to an amount that approaches the State’s total indebtedness to date (which has already more than doubled[4] over the last decade).

You are making it sound righteous - like you are responding to the ongoing drought crisis, when in fact, you are covering for the fact that you have mismanaged the budget, you've spent our surplus covering your own accounting tricks, and now you need to raid the RDF.  

What you're not telling people is that Texas HAD the surplus in 2013, but it was already spent; you've not spent $360 million from 2001 because local governments can't handle more debt; and you've got $6 billion in bond authority we've already granted you!  Now you are creating an emergency on the back of the drought conditions of this year to grab $2 billion to place outside of the accountability of the budget and to be allocated based upon the direction of three unelected, political appointees.

The purpose of the RDF is clearly for emergency spending, and you cannot make an ethical argument that lending arrangements such as credit enhancements and debt service instruments constitute an emergency to raid the RDF.  Lending arrangements DO NOT QUALIFY for an emergency raid on the RDF. You are pulling a con on Texan taxpayers to cover your profligate overspending and we aren't going to let you get away with it again.

To my fellow Texans - don't be fooled.  The Legislature is out to swindle the taxpayers - again.

Nix Prop 6!

 

Heidi Thiess

Executive Board, Clear Lake Tea Party
Broadcast Activist, RagingElephantsRadio.com



[1] http://digitaltexan.net/2012/state/texas-state-local-government-saddled-texan-debt/article40523/#.UlvXNBZ8ZT1

[2] http://www.rightsidenews.com/2013060932678/us/economics/deep-in-the-debt-of-texas.html

[3] http://www.empowertexans.com/features/proposition-6-drowning-us-in-debt/

[4] http://www.dallasnews.com/news/state/headlines/20120926-texas-comptrollers-report-documents-doubling-of-state-and-local-debt-from-2001-11.ece?nclick_check=1

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Heidi Thiess - City Council Member, League City, Texas