UT group looks to ‘Rainy Day Fund’ to soften cuts

Yvonne Marquez

Although the sun was out on Monday, members of The Students Speak chanted “It’s raining, it’s pouring, the Legislature is snoring,” under umbrellas.

About 20 group members handed out fliers in front of the Tower to inform students about the $9.4 billion Rainy Day Fund, and to suggest the Legislature could use it to offset cuts to higher education.

The Rainy Day Fund is a pot of excess revenue, mostly from natural gas and oil taxes, set aside for use during times of a budget shortfall.

Women’s and gender studies senior Teri Adams said the group wanted to raise student awareness of the fund, especially with the budget cuts UT is facing. The Legislative Budget Board, a committee that suggests potential cuts to state agencies, recommended cutting about $93 million from UT’s budget for the 2012-13 biennium.

“The Rainy Day Fund is going to have everyone wanting a piece of it, and it’s not enough to cover the budget shortfall,” Adams said. “We want people to be aware that it’s like a political football, and there are ways to spend it that will make it go as far as possible for the people of Texas and we want people to have their eye on it.”

Adams said in the past Gov. Rick Perry has used the fund to give businesses tax breaks and build infrastructure for businesses.

“We want this fund to be used for the people of Texas and not for the corporate interests,” Adams said
Texas leaders have seen these budget issues coming for a while, said Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed, which is why they chose to not tap into the Rainy Day Fund last session.

“Emptying the savings account to pay for recurring expenses not only postpones tough-but-necessary decisions, but would also leave us ill-equipped to handle bigger emergencies in the future,” Nashed said.