The leadership of our state Legislature, in my opinion, has been somewhat foolish in handling the state’s money. There are ways to deliver humanitarian relief and at the same time save money.
Our State Legislature has continually reduced the amount of money per student dedicated to education–both public education and higher education. Not only will this cost us in terms of lost jobs, businesses, and innovative thinking in the future, but it in fact costs us money now. The one which is most evident is the fact most inmates in Texas have not had the privilege of graduating from high school. Most are there not because they are mean, but because they are ignorant of how to cope with the everyday challenges of life. It costs the state more money to keep a young person in prison than it does to keep them in a graduate program in college. Unfortunately, Texas has more of its citizens in prison than there are prisoners of all the countries of North America put together, as well as South America.
Health care is another way our state is blatantly shortsighted. Aside from children who are deprived of adequate health care as they grow up and who later become a burden on our social welfare system, there are specific examples of how poor health care and lack of foresight costs taxpayers millions and millions of dollars.
A good/bad example of how we deal with health care is diabetes. If a person with diabetes reports to a state health facility, he or she is asked, “Are you blind?” “No.” “Do you need kidney dialysis?” “No.” “Do you need an amputation?” “No.” The answer is then, “Well, come back later when you get worse--we have a program for you.” It has been estimated by medical experts that over half of diabetes in Texas could be controlled or cured by a simple screening and proper diet. Although we once had a program to accomplish this, it has been scrapped by the Health Department and the Legislature. We are virtually spending billions on the above-listed treatments brought about by diabetes. It has escalated every year for the past fifteen years.
Cutting off assistance and attempting to put Planned Parenthood out of business is another costly item. Prenatal care has been shown to be very effective in the birthing of healthy children. Young mothers without prenatal or adequate health care produce children with defects which lead to dependence on state programs for the rest of their lives.
Worker safety is yet another glaring example of wastefulness and harm to our citizens. Texas leads the nation in job deaths. Construction, refining and oil field work are all very dangerous and yet Texas is one of the few states which refuses to mandate workers’ compensation. All too often workers in Texas who receive debilitating injuries on the job end up at emergency rooms which we, the taxpayers, eventually pay for--or even worse, they end up on welfare.
Our Legislature and statewide leaders continually raise the issue of how they would like to give homeowners relief from burdensome property taxes. The simple answer they continue to ignore is the state should adequately fund things which are clearly the state’s responsibility: a state system of public education, eliminating the multi-billion dollar state debt on highways, and adequately funding retirement programs for state retired workers as well as teachers.
It seems not only foolish, but irresponsible to leave these matters as growing indebtedness while we leave several billion dollars in the so called Rainy Day Fund.