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Billions Sitting In State Accounts Can’t Be Tapped

By Jack Fink, CBS 11 News

AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s been a rallying cry for many teachers, parents, and students all across North Texas:  Spare public schools from more than $9 billion in cuts to public schools during the next two years.

Sandy Alexander is a retired school teacher.  “I think you should never ever sacrifice education – it’s imperative to the future we keep that strong.”

But now the state is reportedly sitting on about $4 billion in taxpayer money.  Money the state can’t touch — money it can’t spend on just anything.

As Texas Monthly first reported, it was collected for specific purposes such as reducing emissions, designated trauma facilities, 9-1-1 service fees, among other purposes.

It turns out the state hasn’t used all of that money, and it’s just sitting in the accounts, unable to be touched.

Alexander says “If it’s our tax money, it should be able to be used for important things such as education.”

Katrina Pierson, a North Texas Tea Party member, says the unappropriated funds raise questions.  “Of course, it bothers me. We’re talking about taxpayers’ money regardless.”

Now, it’s caught the attention of Governor Perry.  In a statement, his spokeswoman says Perry is “interested in truth in budgeting.  If there’s money that’s being collected for an intended purpose and not being used for that purpose, we ought to end that.”

But University of Texas at Arlington political science professor Allan Saxe says if lawmakers decide to use the dedicated money for other priorities, it’s a political risk.  “Enticing is the word. Look at that money, let’s go into it, but they’re going to make a lot of people mad because a lot of that money was brought in for specific purposes.”

It’s one more thing lawmakers may consider as they decide on just how severely to cut the budget for schools and the poor.

In another move, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst’s office has announced a new senate subcommittee on fiscal matters will be formed Monday.

Dewhurst’s office says the subcommittee will be charged with finding up to $6 billion in non-tax revenues.

One possible source for that money: selling state property.

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    […] Billions Sitting In State Accounts Can’t Be Tapped It’s been a rallying cry for many teachers, parents, and students all across North Texas: Spare public schools from more than $9 billion in cuts to public schools during the next two years. Go to News Source […]

  • Mae C

    How about selling the governor’s mansion? No one is using it and we need to collect some of the exorbitant rent we’re paying for Perry’s home away from home from somewhere. Our governor and our elected officials have already sold out and you see how little they could get that way.

  • joe

    how about they use that money to pay for what was intended and direct the money that was otherwise marked for those purposes to education and healthcare for children…

  • scott throneberry

    the emissions reduction is part of the aircheck texas program that helps pay up to 600.00 dollars towards state inspection emission failure repairs or for cars that are not feasable to repair”money pits” or are “gross polluters” up to 1500 dollars to retire the vehicle and get a newer vehicle http://www.nctcog.org/trans/air/act/
    which most public school teachers would qualify for

  • Wayne

    Reminds me of the funds Sports Stars are stashing , monies are in a bank collecting interest and helping no one!! Except for the ones holding the deposit slips!!!

  • josh

    so you dip into the rainy day fund to save teachers jobs…wth are you going to dip into next year? people amaze me sometime like they have a right to their job and no matter if it is the public or private sector you cant spend more than you make for long. Get a grip teachers there is far too many of you just collecting a paycheck and not educating our kids. you cant be fired even though in any other profession your incompetence would have gotten your butt fired. its about time we cull the herd.

    • Bear Hamilton


      Spend a day in a public school and see what teachers deal with on a daily basis. Most schools are left to parenting the children as parents aren’t. If the teacher is lucky, they might get to spend some time on educating the kids. You obviously have no idea what schools are like whether they are in a rural area or in the heart of the city. No teacher is getting rich by any scope. Mort are struggling like the rest of us.

      • Robert

        My wife is a teacher and watches too many lazy sloths collecting a paycheck at the childrens expense. Even with budget cuts looming and job cuts likely, some teachers still can’t get off their butts. Pay cuts for teachers is an option and 5% saves all the teachers throughout the State, even the losers. I make less now than I did in 2006 with the same company, do any teachers make less now than they did then? I graduated college and work in my degree field.

  • Harold Gentry

    Its not about schools or children its about losing their jobs that has educrats in an uproar. If they looked at all the waste in public education and cut it out they could make up the 27 billion shortfall in the Texas budget. Want an example? Going to San Antonio for a conference and riding on a boat up and down the riverwalk eating Mexican food at 17.00 per plate. Its the $120 per hour administrators charged taxpayers for the boat ride that makes me mad as hell.

  • JH

    OK…Perry has been governor for how many years and he is just becoming aware of this?

    Gotta love Texas where it is more important to pass legislation allowing 18, 19 and 20 year olds to carry guns on university campuses that ensure our education system is funded and up to standards.

  • billy

    Just think about it…if they pass the guns on campus law…they will use this money to buy the guns back in a year or so…and ’round n ’round we go…Doin’ the Texas bend over n grab your ankles 1 step!!!

  • ThinkTwice

    Maybe the money isn’t really there…

  • DB

    Alright, it is unbelievable that we continue to talk about eliminating teachers jobs to satisfy a budget shortfall. Let me remind the general public that the schools are there and funded by taxpayer monies (lots of it!) to educate our youth. They are not there to foster the next NFL, NBA, MLB, or PGA crack addicts. I never hear mention of suspending these programs during this budget ‘crisis’. I’m tired of hearing about laying off our educators, all the while driving by any number of local HS million dollar superstadiums on any given Friday night with their lights ablazing. Let’s susoend these extracurricular activites and place a moritorium on building any new superstadiums until there is money to fund them. I know that’s a hard pill to swallow but harder than impeding our children’s education!? Come on! These programs have been a sacred cow for far too long.

    For the record, we homeschool but I happily contribute taxes to the local school district to support public education and even moderate sports programs. I do not however support the funding of these bloated programs with their mega facilites that overshadow the intended purpose of public education.

  • John

    My GOD, all the people in Texas damn near starving, homeless, living in hovels, and the state is SITTING ON 9BILLION DOLLARS???

    Someone needs to go to Austin and CLEAN HOUSE….what the hell?

  • Gwen Holt

    We need an investigation into the handeling of the Lottery money. The MAIN reason for it was to help out our schools…Where is it going??????? If it is not for the schools then stop and put it towards the schools…Promises that were made by our state government about the Lottery money has not been kept….AGAIN I stress to hasve an investigation where it is going, and do an audit on Parry find out where all his money is coming from…..We definantly need a new governer……..Not one so self absorbed.

  • Sam

    Hay Perry, what happened to all that saving our education talks you make every time you come up for reelection. Wasn’t the Lottery suppose to take care of this to guarentee our schools would never have to face any cuts. To secure it’s future with all the millions brought in by the Lottery???????? Is that where this slush fund came from, the Lotto???? Something needs to defenently be looked into….Where is our senetors and congressmen???Why hasven’t they demanded to know the answers? Where are these Millions going????

  • JC

    My GOD, all the Texans out there staving, out of work, losing their homes or homeless, and the damned state is SITTING on 9 BILLION DAMNED DOLLARS???

    What the hell people? Someone needs to head to Austin and CLEAN HOUSE !!!

  • Rob

    In the 4th from last paragraph, it adds “and the poor”. That is totally unrelated to the rest of the story. Since ‘The Great Society’ untold BILLIONS have been spent trying to eradicate poverty, to no avail. The poverty rate is higher than ever. Perhaps if that money hadn’t been handed out to the impoverished, but instead been used to say, rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, we’d have better/safer roads and bridges, and more people working. Gainful

    • chris

      you are an absolute idiot, go ahead an insert the balls back into your mouth now.

  • Robert

    The entire economy of the World has taken a pay cut due to the Great Recession. The State can’t print money. If everyone is taking a pay cut, why can’t teachers take a pay cut? If my employer has no money, I don’t get a raise. Almost every school budget could be resolved with a 5% teacher pay cut. If the teachers don’t like it, go out and find a job that pays better. They all have college degrees. Live with the career choice you made. If you teach because it is what you want to do then live with a pay cut. If you teach for the paycheck (+/- 75% of teachers) go out in the public sector and get another job.

  • JH

    Robert, do you know that there are many, many flight attendants who make substantially more than public school teachers?

    Have you ever heard the old adage, you get what you pay for? Texas education system isn’t great now, so let’s make teachers earn minimum wage and see what caliber of educators we get then…

  • ilvrw

    Here again our Governor has no clue what we do or don’t have. We have BILLIONS in projects that were set up and not fully used. When the project is complete, any unused funds SHOULD go back into the coffer. I’m sorta glad they found it this way because if it was going back, we would have already spent it on something else.

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  • billy

    You are right ilvrw…We would have spent it ALL on vaseline by now…..ricky “bobby” perry will be sticking it to us for a LONG,LONG,LONG TIME!!!!

  • Tim Holt

    What it costs per hour to educate your child:


    Use the template to figure out how much you spend per hour.

    • DB

      Okay. $7,500.00/year per student huh? Do you think that your kids are getting a $7,500/year class education? There are private schools that will educate your children for close to this figure with a much better student to teacher ratio and better accountability.

      As a homeschooler, we we educate our children for a third of this with a first class curriculum. I know there are other divergences in overhead cost but still a stunning difference in figures.

  • Kim Dar

    I suggest that an auditor check the books and not one that has any ties to anybody associated with anyone in Texas government. Let’s just see how much more is sitting there unused while we pay $10,000 a month in rent so Governor “Good Hair” and first lady Anita live like royalty. That $10,000 a month does not include maids, security, landscapers, personal secretaries & etc. that they think they need. Moving them to an apartment and having state functions in state owned building would likely free up a lot of money.

    Maybe next time he comes up for re-election folks will remember this and vote accordingly. I did the last two times, to no avaiil. I’m stuck with what a small percentage of folks wanted. The law should be changed that says they do not have to have more than 50% of the vote to win or face a run off.

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