Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Schools Underfinanced

Governor Rick Perry’s recent pronouncements about the budget for the State of Texas are beginning to make him sound more like Muammar Gaddafi.  Perry recently announced that the impending possible 100,000 personnel layoffs from public education in Texas were the fault of local districts, not the state. All of this makes about as much sense as Gaddafi’s pronouncement that everybody in Libya loves him, while all the while he is having them bombed by jet fighter planes and shelled by artillery.  

Governor Perry’s meamory is either flawed, or he is making a ridiculous attempt to rewrite history.  Our governor would have us all believe the Texas crises over having a $27 billion deficit is all the fault of the United States government.  He seems to have forgotten that all of this has occurred on his watch.  Even though Texas has a pay-as-you go provision in its constitution to avoid deficit spending, refusing to recognize facts can still get our state in financial trouble.  

If you will recall, in a great political ploy, Governor Perry pronounced he could reduce property taxes without increasing state taxes.  To this end our governor came up with a plan to adopt a business tax which he claimed to be revenue neutral.  This was in order to supposedly reduce our property taxes by a third.  Our governor took an attitude of, “damn the deficits, full speed ahead” in spite of the fact several experts, including formal Comptroller Carolyn Keeton Rylander, who warned the state Legislature and Perry that his proposed new tax was inadequate to supply enough funding to get us through the first two-year biennium for public education.  Perry insisted our Texas economy was so strong it would make up for the difference in spite of all the bad predictions.  

Now, as it has turns out, Governor Perry, in all of his wisdom, was off in his calculations by approximately $5.5 billion.  Still in typical fashion, which burnishes his conservative credentials, Governor Perry does not want to touch any of the state’s rainy day fund, but simply shove it off on us, local taxpayers, in the form of higher taxes on our homes and businesses.

It seems far-fetched the leader of our state could gain any credibility by maintaining he could take $11 billion from our state education system and pronounce resulting layoffs and cutbacks are not the part of the state.  In fact, the conservative mantra of no new taxes obviously has not applied to “no new” local property taxes.  The no new tax position is in large measure responsible for why we are where we are–in the hole.

When the Foundation School Program was adopted to fund our state system of public education in the 1940s, Texas furnished a little over 60% of the total funding for our system.  Local school taxes were an afterthought to add to the quality in various local areas around the state.  Currently, our state system of education is funded primarily by local property taxes and supplemented by one-third of state taxes or funds.

Believing that cuts alone can return Texas to a balanced budget and make up for a $27 billion dollar deficit is following the old conservative head in the sand technique.  Ignore the problem, including widespread suffering which will occur because of cuts in education, health, law enforcement and research and everything will be alright and nobody will notice.  

Some of us will notice.  We will pay the price in poorly educated children, lagging behind in innovative business development and look more and more like a third-world country rather than a modern day developing state.

The current course set by our governor and conservative Republican leaders has us headed directly to a depression of our own within the borders of Texas.   We are already beginning to experience unemployment akin to that at the national level.  Adding 100,000 school employees, 60,000 employees of nursing homes and healthcare facilities to the roles of the unemployed, continuing to limp along without filling the 400 vacancies of our state police force and eradication God only knows how many state employee positions will cause unemployment the likes of which has not been seen in Texas since the 1920s.  

Idealistic conservatives say everybody has to tighten their belt and share the pain.  Unfortunately, people like our conservative governor, while living in a $10,000 a month rental unit, will share little of the pain of the average working family who may or may not have a roof over their head after the Republican recession or depression.

We need a serious antidote to people calling themselves Tea Partiers who think our best hope for the future lies in crippling government.  I would suggest the strongest antidote to this non-thinking group would be a group called, “Intelligent, well-informed thinking voters.”

1 comment:

  1. What??? Gub Goodhair is blaming the local school districts and not Obama? Again? Has he gone to that well once too many times? I'd ask if he's fearful of that biting him in the bum, seeing how he spit at federal money for the recovery, but then again he's fearful of nothing as long as people stay asleep - or is that stay sheep... And yes, we the people, that's to say the lower 90%, will pay, again, to fix this, I'm sure through higher local taxes and state fees (all regressive) and Slick Rick will coast along saying HE didn't raise taxes to get us out of this mess. Or just pass this all off though creative accounting to the next guy. After all, when did the federal deficit start to really snowball into the $14T it is now, with blame thrown at the horrid tax and spend liberals? "It's all Barack's fault!!!" Yeah, that was under Saint Ronald. The blame game works so long as we the sheeple allow it to. Rick and Ron have a lot in common and playing the blame game is at the top of the list. They're experts. Teflon Ron and Slick Rick. Could it have to do with the hair dye both used?

    However this plays out, I'm sure Rick is sleeping well, in peace and solitude in his private gated community, free from those loud, nasty protesters, as from the looks of the plywood covering the Governor's Mansion it doesn't appear as though he intends to move back to town anytime soon.


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