[Comptroller Susan] Combs' forecast was grimmer than anticipated by some leaders, noted House Appropriations Committee Chairman Warren Chisum, R-Pampa: "It was kind of a little bit less than our worst-case scenario." He predicted lawmakers will dip into the rainy day fund to pay for "one-time expenses."
But he said, as he has before, that new ideas such as putting significant money into higher education to stem rising tuition rates "are at least on life support" because of the constricted budget. "The focus has got to be to live within that revenue estimate," Chisum said.
GOP Gov. Rick Perry generally believes the rainy day fund should be used "for one-time expenditures that don't obligate the state to ongoing costs," said spokeswoman Allison Castle.
"It (Combs' estimate) certainly was unpleasant news," said Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, Senate Finance Committee vice-chair.
Zaffirini said lawmakers have no choice but to dip into the rainy day fund: "I do believe that it's raining. Simply cutting programs is not the solution. We cannot shift the burden from the state to local governments."
Dick Lavine of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, which works on behalf of lower-income people, said, "The people we're concerned about rely on the state for the most basic services, like health care and education.
"We're very concerned that the state make them a priority and devote as much as necessary of the rainy day fund to make sure that people who are already going to be hurt by the recession aren't hurt further by the elimination of services."