Saturday, March 14, 2015

Remember the Rainy Day Fund!

The Alamo is the most recognizable icon in the state of Texas, and it’s tucked away on a crowded street lined with garish businesses like Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. Corner preachers, percussion bands, and street merchants are in abundance. The downtown hubbub distracts from the dignity of the garrison and its special place in Texas history.

All things being equal, should the street be closed? Should the buildings across the street be leveled? Should ordinances be passed to forbid vendors and noisemakers? Yes, yes, yes! But at what cost?

A Texas beat reporter on 1200 WOAI was very excited Friday morning about a proposed revolutionary funding measure to renovate Alamo Plaza: the Rainy Day Fund. Eureka! Yes, the same Rainy Day Fund that Texas taxpayers abused twice in the last two elections to fund water infrastructure projects and tollroads will be siphoned off yet again, to the tune of $250 million, if lawmakers get their way.

This is not how you treat the Texas Constitution. This is not how you treat people who put money away with the promise that it wouldn’t be spent like this. Alas, Texas voters have demonstrated they have no compunction risking the state’s financial security to avoid paying for something themselves.

The reporter on 1200 WOAI suggested San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor could secure a political legacy by campaigning for this $250 million Alamo Preservation Fund. It was a pitiful appeal to political self-interest. Legacies are gratuitous monuments to self. They’re a big log on a small fire, smothering it. Social Security is a legacy (insolvent). The Great Society is a legacy (total failure). A good leader does what’s best for her city, not what gets her name written in the history books.

Wouldn’t a better legacy be preserving the integrity of the public fisc and guarding the public against bad laws? Ivy Taylor already has a legacy in that regard. As far as I know, she’s the only mayoral candidate who took the correct positions on the horrible nondiscrimination ordinance and the horrible streetcar plan.

There’s a better way to clean up the Alamo than throwing money at it from the Rainy Day Fund.

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