Friday, August 27, 2010


There’s an old joke that defines recession, depression and panic.  According to the joke, recession is a condition where you know someone who has lost their job.  Depression is the situation where your next door neighbor loses his job. Panic, however, is the case where you lose your own job.

It is amazing to me that Texans have not yet caught on to the fact that conservative Republicans’ steadfast and stubborn refusal to take a look at our outmoded method of collecting taxes is rapidly heading Texas in the direction of becoming something like a third-world country.
Although our current governor and several of our leaders continue to vociferously brag about their great management skills in keeping Texas in the “black,” they have done so by cutting short on our most precious commodity--our children and future generations of Texans. 
These leaders and the governor have also managed to balance the budget by smoke, mirrors, tricks and taking advantage of federal stimulus money which they clearly condemned as evil.  Now they are attempting to make draconian cuts in the very things we should be investing in. 

Most politicians make impassioned speeches about investment in our children and future generations of well-educated Texans.  
Unfortunately, too often Texas’ political rhetoric does not match the real commitment. And, in fact, it's the kind of hollow commitment that begins to look like the burned out hull of our once-beautiful Governor's mansion.
You know, while the mansion is under repair, somehow we are able to spend $10,000 per month on the luxurious quarters for our governor’s home, and have built up 9 billion dollars in a so-called rainy-day savings account. 

And yet, Texas ranks dead last in what we spend and what we do for children’s health.

The Legislature finds about $300,000,000 every two years for a slush fund for our governor to give away, mainly to people who generously support his campaign, while we still look to education as the first and largest place to save money to try to balance the budget.

A big brouhaha in Jefferson County has risen due to the Commissioner Court’s stated intention to abolish the positions of nine deputy constables.  This budget-cutting move has sparked large crowds at Commissioners’ Court and even special rallies against abolishing these positions.  

What boggles my mind is the fact that citizens, supposedly so concerned with jobs and good government, seem to be sitting on their hands while the current governor’s administration, in an effort to balance the budget with no change in our tax structure, is gradually dismantling much of our higher education system.

Did you know? The governor has demanded, and for the most part, has obtained a 5% return of last year’s appropriation from the institutions of higher learning.  The 5% cuts demanded by Governor Perry have already cost the University of Texas about 600 jobs; and the governor is calling for an additional 10%.

To bring the situation closer to home we need only to look as far as Lamar State College- Port Arthur.  Even though enrollment has increased by almost 10%, the local college has been required to return 3/4 of a million dollars to the state treasury. Unlike most other parts of the state, Lamar has been adversely impacted in a serious manner by two hurricanes in recent times and is required to find ½ million dollars for windstorm, fire and extended coverage without any help whatsoever from the state.
Far from cutting fat out of the budget, these draconian cuts have resulted in laying off 28 skilled people, closing the Childcare Development Center, imposing a hiring freeze, and eliminating programs in child development, welding, heating and A/C technology, and eliminating training for chemical dependency counselors. Furthermore, even faculty members are unable to continue their own professional developmental training, and summer school has been sharply curtailed.

Unfortunately, these shortsighted cuts in higher education institutions such as UT and Lamar will be felt long after this budget year.  Texas will pay the price in loss of competitiveness, and in having qualified, skilled workers for jobs requiring more and more education and training.  Our institutions of higher learning will suffer nationwide as well as internationally in the loss of high standing to attract scholars, researchers and world renowned professors.

While Texas’ main brag will be, “We balanced our budget with no new taxes,” India and China will be bragging about producing twice the number of computer experts, engineers, scientists and other scholars.

Many economists are predicting that in the coming few years, for the first time, America’s next generation will not be able to do as well as their parents and grandparents.

If they are right, perhaps it's time to take a good look at the panic that is just around the corner for our children.

Voting citizens of this state need to wake up and demand that our elected officials take a realistic view toward providing adequate resources to ensure a decent future for this state and its progeny. Those demigods, who talk the loudest about cutting the size of government and government programs, need to be held to account and explain exactly which cuts they believe to be waste in government.

It will, in all likelihood, surprise the average citizen to know that more tax money at the state level is wasted by giving special interests undeserved tax breaks.

Huge grants are doled out at the whim of the governor in the so-called name of industrial development and wasteful procedures which continue to deal only with symptoms of social and health problems of this state rather than deal with the root cause through prevention. These are the big waste items in Texas government.

And the often talked about welfare mother is pale by comparison.

1 comment:

  1. Amen! This is the smartest thing I've read in a long time and I will be sharing it.


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