TM NOTE: Welcome Texan4Hillary, who is going to be posting on national politics and Democratic-Republican battles, including news around the web. Tonight he opens up with a focus on his home state of Texas. Welcome t4H.
My state Texas had a near 30 billion deficit and it is required to balance its budget. It has a lesson for other states- much of the deficits caused have been made via GOP tax cuts- you know- starve the beast. Former Tx Guv Mark White and Rep. Hochberg here have stirred things up with their push against the newly minted right wing Texas lege hell bent on gutting Medicaid, public schools and everything else.
White got through limits on class sizes in 1984. Now the GOP wants to uh do some fuzzy math on that rule. Comptroller Combs proposes cutting 10,000 Texas teachers in a state starving for MORE teachers. Oh and how did this deficit get so bad under Guv Perry? Perry idiotic tax plans. Read below on that. And read what Guv White has to say to other states on the criminal cuts they are doing to society.
Meanwhile Texas Dem champions of the poor are pushing for a temporary increase in the sales tax- recall we have NO INCOME TAXES in Tx. Don’t worry the political consultants say its toxic to do and the GOP says austerity is the way no matter if the poor go homeless, have no education and crime soars. Not to mention local taxes going sky high to pay for all the dispossessed needing medical attention, food etc.. More below on that too-
Former Texas governor Mark White wants to know, if class size in public schools isn’t important, “then why does every private school in America brag on ‘we have a small class size?’ ”
Texas politicians and education administrators (note, not teachers) have upped the drumbeat in recent days, saying Texas can no longer afford its caps on class sizes, and hey, it might be better to educate students in larger classes anyway. The Senate Committee on Education is couching this in terms of “local control,” its recommendation: “Modify class size limitations to allow more flexibility to school districts to meet the need of their students.”
A famous education study done in Tennessee in the 1980s shows class size matters. In the four-year Project STAR (Student-Teacher Achievement Ratio) study, kindergarten-through-third-grade classes with 13-17 students in them were compared to those with 22-26 students, and the researchers found out, in fact, that smaller meant better in terms of academic milestones. A follow-up study showed the effect continues for several years….
And how did the debt get so bad in Texas? Perry.
In 2006, Governor Rick Perry ordered school districts to cut local property tax, saying the state would make up the difference.
“The state’s new taxes to make up the difference didn’t made up the difference,” Hochberg says. “And so since that bill was passed in ’06, we haven’t had an internally balanced budget at the state level. We’ve been short every time. We covered it the first time because we had a surplus coming in. We covered it the second time with stimulus money ““ that nasty, awful stimulus money from Washington that we don’t want to touch.
“We were 4 billion short on the budget last time without the stimulus money, and that’s on a zero-growth budget. State revenues haven’t balanced the budget for the last two cycles since those cuts were made.”
My former state rep- who still serves in the state house has this to say to the GOP insisting on cutting funds to education:
Hochberg knows schools waste money, and says he’s ready to offer alternative savings proposals for schools ““ in fact, he’s done so over his 18 years as a state legislator with little success.
Some of his proposals: Cut back state standardized testing to every other year for the kids who pass, stop buying textbooks that sit in a teacher’s closet and instead go to more electronic textbooks, have a serious look at the cost of University Interscholastic League rules that require every school to offer every significant sport, he says.
Also, why not use long-distance, virtual learning for teachers’ continuing education and cut out the need for regional service centers?…
Financing schools should be the first priority of the Legislature, according to White. “Let’s do our cutting somewhere else. You could quit building highways in Texas for five years and it would not hurt the future of Texas quite as much as if you change the funding on classes and quality of education in our schools today.”
…“If it’s right for Texas and its future to say, ‘Oh, we don’t have any money,’ or ‘We don’t have enough money to pay for a quality education for the young people of our state,’ then you have made the classic mistake of not just eating your seed corn but you’ve poured salt on the seed corn you didn’t eat,” White says.
..Rep. Garnet Coleman, a Houston Democrat who champions those who’d be hardest-hit by state-services cuts, is among them. A 1-cent increase in the rate would yield an estimated $2.5 billion a year. “I think it’s something that needs to be considered before we gut public and higher education and essential services for the elderly, disabled and children,” Coleman said last week. Although he’s got concerns that sales taxes hit the poor hardest, he said a temporary hike could preserve crucial services and be a move toward compromise with conservatives, who see consumption taxes as the fairest.
A temporary sales tax increase was among ideas mentioned in a recent piece by F. Scott McCown, executive director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, and other leading staff members of the center that focuses on low- and moderate-income Texans.
“What we’re thinking is really going to happen is that when the budget is filed, and people see what the cuts mean, the nature of this conversation is going to change,” said McCown, who advocates a “balanced approach” in meeting the shortfall that includes using Rainy Day savings and new revenue.
Don’t bet on a change on taxes, said Republican former House Appropriations Committee Chairman Talmadge Heflin: “I think the leadership is serious when they say no tax increases.”
Political consultant Mark Sanders said a sales-tax increase “is just completely unacceptable to Republicans, especially these new Republicans who just got elected promising they were going to go to Austin and cut the budget. A sales tax, while it’s one of the most efficient taxes, is also one of the most visible taxes. People will feel it in their pocketbook every time they leave the mall.”
Uh hey Mr. Consultant- think people would feel a little pain when they go shopping with that extra penny in tax wait till their property tax skyrocket as the poor are dumped on the counties and crime becomes a crisis.
This is the kind of fight progressives face in about every state whether it be Dem or GOP run. Get on your reps daily, organize your neighborhoods. This is a fight against us and our future.