We’ve written about the Texas GOP’s neglect of needed functions and services of state government for quite a while. It’s one of the major frames we put forward. There’s no one running in the current GOP that is putting forward any kind of long-range plan for public and higher education, transportation and infrastructure, and health care to name a few. And when it comes to immigration the Texas GOP is moving in the wrong direction. Sooner of later business interests in Texas will come to the realization that they no longer have any pull with the crazies who’ve taken over the Texas GOP.
Business interests are walking the halls of the Texas Capitol calling on lawmakers to rethink some of their past policies, hoping that after the November election they can win some key victories next year.
The business lobby’s wish list, expressed at legislative hearings and press conferences, includes better-educated workers, more spending on infrastructure and an overhaul of immigration policies. Where these issues fall on the ideological continuum is in the eye of the beholder, but for these trade associations and executives, these are the essential duties of government and critical for economic growth.
These needs that business interests want are what most Texans want too – not on the extreme right. Education, transportation, and health are some of the main building blocks of any society. But our state government, as it is currently configured, is incapable of meeting these needs.
Those lawmakers demonstrated their reluctance to open the state’s wallet in 2013 by choosing to let voters decide whether to tap the rainy day fund for water and transportation projects. Voters approved water funding in 2013 and are expected to approve transportation spending in November, but those constitutional amendments are only a drop in the bucket toward solving the state’s long-term funding crisis for infrastructure.
Last week the Texas Association of Business’s Stephen Minick warned lawmakers that their failure to invest in improved infrastructure sent the wrong signal to companies interested in moving to Texas.
There are hopeful signs coming from the Democratic campaigns, especially from Leticia van De Putte. Some in the business community may be ready to give Democrats a look, On the campaign trail: Van de Putte.
A day earlier, the campaign bus touched down in Fort Worth and Dallas with Van de Putte stumping at a Mexican restaurant, electrifying a packed crowd at the Dallas County Democratic Party headquarters and later attending a big-money fundraiser sponsored by Annie’s List, a group working to elect Democratic women.
Scheduled to hit Houston on Saturday for multiple events, the bus tour will make its way to Corpus Christi on Sunday and wrap up with a rally in Austin on Monday.
Aside from elevating her name I.D. and helping to raise money, Van de Putte also is using the statewide tour to lay the blueprint for her campaign narrative — that of a pro-business, bipartisan “problem solver” who is focused on education, health care, water and transportation.
“Voters want us to concentrate on the core issues,” she said, “not the divisive politics, the wedge issues that the Republicans in this race are using.”
At the business roundtable in the Belo Mansion those same themes dominate much of the roughly hour-long meeting.
Frustrated with the direction of the Legislature, the business owners hurdle questions at Van de Putte: Why did Republicans refuse to expand Medicaid during the legislative session? What needs to be done to motivate state lawmakers to get funding fully back on track for public education? And why isn’t the Legislature investing further in water and roads?
On each topic, Van de Putte agrees with the small crowd — more needs to be done now.
It appears clear that the business community in Texas is starting to understand that the right wing crazies are bad for business. But they haven’t quite realized that they have to organize against them, and elect Democrats, to remove them from office if they want things to change. As Kuff said on this.
To know Sen. Van de Putte is to like her, but the challenge is ensuring enough people know her. As she was uncontested in her primary, the last finance report she filed was in January, so we don’t know how her campaign is doing on the fundraising front. I don’t know how much she really needs to raise, but it is in the millions. I get the impression she’s doing well on that front, but we won’t know for sure until July. By the same token, we keep hearing bits and pieces about support for her from Republicans that are not happy with the prospect of Dan Patrick as Lite Gov. I try to keep stuff like that in perspective because I really want it to be true. My hope is that we’ll hear more of this, and have more names attached to the stories, after Patrick (presumably) wins his runoff in May. It would be nice to see some of those same names show up in her finance report, and of course there’s the matter of groups like the Texas Farm Bureau putting their money where their mouths are. Sen. Van de Putte won’t have any trouble firing up Democrats for November. Stuff like this will let us know if it’s contagious outside of the base. Juanita and Stace have more.
What the business community may be finally starting to realize is that there are no more moderate Republicans left to come to their rescue in The Lege. And The Lege is only going to get more right wing, and crazier in 2015. Which means less chance of them getting what they need unless they start helping Democrats win.
The social policies of Charles Murray, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified as a white nationalist, serve as inspiration for Greg Abbott’s education reform proposal. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs is shocked and awed that Abbott is making so many critical mistakes in his gubernatorial campaign.
Texas Democrats haven’t claimed a statewide elected office in 20 yrs, but after a rousing bus tour, Texas Leftist is convinced now more than ever that pharmacist, State Senator extraordinaire and Lt. Governor candidate Leticia Van de Putte has the prescription to change that.
News reports and state officials have commonly stated that expanding the Medicaid program in this fashion would cost the state about $15 billion over 10 years. Except, that figure, provided by the state Health and Human Services Commission, is actually an estimated total cost for all aspects of the Affordable Care Act, many of which the state is going to have to pay for even though state leaders have remained steadfastly opposed to almost all aspects of the law.
“What?!?,” you say?
Texas is paying for it, either way, and without the expansion they get none of the benefit.
In a presentation given to lawmakers in March 2013, state Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek estimated that because of the publicity and outreach involved with the Affordable Care Act, more people who are eligible for Medicaid but not currently part of the program would likely enroll. The estimated price tag? About $6 billion over 10 years, or approximately 40 percent of the total Affordable Care Act implementation cost.
According to that presentation, the estimated cost for expanding Medicaid eligibility to all adults who make less than the 138 percent of the poverty level was about $8.8 billion over 10 years. However, the Legislative Budget Board, the Legislature’s budget arm, came up with a far lower cost estimate of about $4 billion over 10 years. The differences can be attributed to two factors, HHSC spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman said. First, HHSC projects that more people will join the Medicaid program than the LBB does; and second, HHSC projected it would cost more to provide the coverage than the LBB does.
Secondly, assume that $1.5 billion figure is correct and that adding it to the state budget would cause taxes to skyrocket and the state’s economy to crumble. However, it begs the question why that hasn’t already happened. Taxpayers in the five major urban counties in Texas — Harris (Houston), Dallas, Tarrant (Fort Worth), Bexar (San Antonio) and Travis (Austin) — already shell out more than $1.5 billion a year in hospital district taxes to provide care and facilities for their largely indigent populations. A study commissioned by Methodist Healthcare Ministries and Texas Impact estimated total local government spending on providing health care at roughly $2.5 billion a year.
Thirdly, expanding Medicaid would produce additional revenue for hospital districts, potentially allowing county governments to cut their tax rate. In Bexar County, hospital district officials estimate that expanding Medicaid would save them $52 million a year, roughly 20 percent of the amount of revenue they get from the hospital district tax, and County Judge Nelson Wolff said he would cut property taxes to pass on the savings if it were approved. In Harris County, hospital district officials say the expansion of Medicaid would mean they would receive an additional $77.5 million in reimbursements, or roughly 15 percent of their tax revenue, based on 2013 financials.
Texas get’s all of the pain, and none of the gain associated with expanding Medicaid. What a bunch of dips^&ts we have running our state.
During his tenure on the bench as a Texas Supreme Court justice, the AG argued that such background checks, however, ought not to be required when businesses hire, which was a position he took even after a woman had been raped in her home by a vacuum cleaner salesman with a criminal record.
In the case, which made it to the state supreme court, the woman was awarded about a million dollars after the vacuum cleaner company was found liable for not checking the records of employees. The salesman, who raped the victim while her children slept nearby, was on probation for indecency with a child. A lower court’s ruling was upheld by the Texas high court with a 6-3 vote, but Abbott dissented and said the Kirby Company had no obligation to screen employee backgrounds.
An analysis of this nature on a judicial opinion might be considered anomalous in a political career, but Abbott is actually exhibiting a previously ignored pattern of behavior with his run for Texas governor. He is either oblivious to his own hypocrisies or he does not think they matter to voters. Otherwise, what explains his legal defense of $200 million dollars in budget cuts to Texas Pre-K by the legislature at the same time he is rolling out an education program that he says needs investment in Pre-K? He will also be the voice and face of the Texas GOP, which has stated clearly in its platform that it “oppose[s] mandatory pre-school and Kindergarten” and “urge[s] Congress to repeal government-sponsored programs that deal with early childhood development.”
There are more levels of contradiction and hypocrisy in that one issue than can ever be logically explained.
Logic, though, does not seem to drive Abbott campaign strategy or tactics. If it did, the candidate would have never appeared with self-confessed sexual predator Ted Nugent, and he would have rejected supporters who referred to Wendy Davis as “Abortion Barbie;” Abbott would have never referred to South Texas, critical to his election chances with Hispanic turnout, as a “Third World;” he would have insisted state law protect a woman’s right to equal pay, and he would have distanced his campaign from the controversial Charles Murray, whose extensive work for the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI) has argued women and minorities are genetically inferior to white males.
Greg Abbott may not yet be in political trouble in Texas. But he sure seems to be working hard to get there.
True, divided public assessments of the law have hardly moved since 2010. (Democratic disgruntlement briefly spiked in late 2013, but now Democrats are becoming more enthusiastic than ever.) Partisan divergences remain, yet over recent months the proportion of all Americans supporting repeal has declined sharply. Most people now say keep the law and fix it. Even more of all partisan persuasions correctly believe that the law is beyond repeal.
GOP strategists may think “repeal Obamacare” is a good battle cry for a mid-term election in which Democratic turnout usually falls. But so what? Let’s assume Republicans take the Senate majority. Repeal and evisceration will still be impossible with Barack Obama in the White House, and the day after the November 2014 election, the 2016 elections will loom as dangerous for Republicans. Democratic voters will turn out in 2016; and the Senate seats at issue 2016 will include many with GOP Senators facing reelection in blue states. Given these prospects, we will not likely see majority Senate votes to repeal or gut Obamacare – in effect, to roll back benefits large chunks of voters already enjoy. We will see evasion and refusal to go that route from endangered 2016 GOP incumbents like Senators Mark Kirk of Illinois, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Rob Portman of Ohio, and even John McCain of Arizona.
In what they categorized as a legal and ethical matter rather than a political one, a group of about 25 Williamson County Democratic Party loyalists gathered on the east steps of the county courthouse Friday to condemn Williamson County Commissioners for their hiring practices in the Robert Lloyd constable application case.
“These questions violated all our freedoms by an obvious effort to create government that enforces a predetermined religion or political belief in Williamson County,” said Tom Mowdy, a Democrat candidate for the Precinct 4 seat currently occupied by Republican Ron Morrison.
“These questions were obviously deliberate and purposeful acts designed to eliminate job applicants who expressed religious and political beliefs that the Commissioners did not share,” Mowdy added.
“We are calling on the Commissioners Court of Williamson County to cease and desist their illegal hiring practices and their unethical treatment of job applicants,” rally organizers said in a press release provided to the Taylor Press. The group said they are also asking for commissioners to “apologize for discriminatory hiring practices.”
Protesters said they were demanding that Williamson County settle out of court, which they said will be much less costly than letting the case proceed through the courts — particularly since two other individuals have now joined the suit.
“Williamson County citizens have been saddled with the highest per capita debt in Texas, and this case will cause our citizens to pay even more for their freedom,” Mowdy told supporters.
Mike Custer, another veteran, who is running for Williamson County Judge as a Democrat, told supporters that monetary compensation is not a primary objective in the lawsuit.
“This is not about money, it’s about doing the right thing,” said Custer. “The plaintiffs are asking for commissioners to receive human resources training (and) to have the county’s human resource director present in hiring interviews. It’s about protecting everyone’s civil rights”, Custer said. He added compensation for the plaintiffs’ legal fees is also being sought.
But that didn’t stop Williamson County commissioners from asking those very questions when they were interviewing candidates for the Precinct 3 constable vacancy. And now, one of those candidates is suing them for violating his constitutional rights.
This has been one of the few responses to this lawsuit from an elected official.
When asked about the interview questions in May, Williamson County Precinct 3 Commissioner Valerie Covey said those rules don’t apply in this situation.
“In general, this is a process that is different than a normal employment interview because it is an elected position,” Covey said.
“We wanted to make sure the candidate could not only do the job as constable, but also handle the rigor of political life,” Covey said.
This is another instance of the commissioners in Williamson County going too far because they have no check on their power, one party government. There was no need for commissioners to do this. They can easily tell whether someone is a partisan by their primary voting history, which is public record. The main issue for a job like this should be whether someone has the qualifications for the job. Unless, of course, all they care about is whether someone is an absolute party hack.
Any doubts about the determination of an activist United States Supreme Court to rewrite election rules so that the dollar matters more than the vote were removed Wednesday, when McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission was decided in favor of the dollar.
The court that in 2010, with its Citizens United v. FEC decision, cleared the way for corporations to spend as freely as they choose to buy elections has now effectively eliminated the ability of the American people and their elected representatives to establish meaningful limits on direct donations by millionaires and billionaires to campaigns.
The Citizens United ruling, coming after many previous judicial assaults on campaign finance rules and regulations, was a disaster for democracy. But it left in place at least some constraints on the campaign donors. Key among these was a limitation on the ability of a wealthy individual to donate more than a total dollar amount of $123,000 total in each two-year election cycle to political candidates and parties.
With the ruling in the McCutcheon case—where the court was actively encouraged to intervene on behalf of big-money politics by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky—a 5-4 court majority (signing on to various opinions) has ruled that caps on the total amount of money an individual donor can give to political candidates, parties and political action committees are unconstitutional. In so doing, says U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, says the court has further tipped the balance of power toward those who did not need any more influence over the affairs of state.
“It is far too often the case in Washington that powerful corporate interests, the wealthy, and the well-connected get to write the rules,” says Baldwin, “and now the Supreme Court has given them more power to rule the ballot box by creating an uneven playing field where big money matters more than the voice of ordinary citizens.”
Now we have McCutcheon v. FEC, where the Court, in yet another controversial 5-4 opinion written by Roberts, struck down the limits on how much an individual can contribute to candidates, parties and political action committees. So instead of an individual donor being allowed to give $117,000 to campaigns, parties and PACs in an election cycle (the aggregate limit in 2012), they can now give up to $3.5 million, Andy Kroll of Mother Jones reports.
The Court’s conservative majority believes that the First Amendment gives wealthy donors and powerful corporations the carte blanche right to buy an election but that the Fifteenth Amendment does not give Americans the right to vote free of racial discrimination.
These are not unrelated issues—the same people, like the Koch brothers, who favor unlimited secret money in US elections are the ones funding the effort to make it harder for people to vote. The net effect is an attempt to concentrate the power of the top 1 percent in the political process and to drown out the voices and votes of everyone else.
It’s all part of the plan to make sure certain people don’t vote.
Here’s Sen. Bernie Sanders on Democracy Now talking about the decision.
With sign-ups for private insurance nearing 7 million on the final days of open enrollment for Obamacare, Republicans are once again trying to unskew the polls. While Wyoming Senator John Barrasso accused the White House of “cooking the books,” Ted Cruz (R-TX) pretended the number of uninsured Americans is actually rising.
Sadly, this conservative whimpering doesn’t mean the GOP’s all-out war on the Affordable Care Act is over. The avalanche of court challenges continues. The 50-plus repeal votes will continue to grow. The conservative misinformation campaign about mythical “death panels” and a bogus “government-takeover of health care” left millions of Americans fearful and confused–the uninsured most of all–about Obamacare. Thanks to the refusal of many Republican-led states to accept the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, over 7 million red staters will needlessly remain uninsured–and thousands of them will needless die as a result. Many of the same GOP-dominated states are blocking the work of Obamacare “navigators,” despite supporting the same federal outreach program for Medicare for over two decades.
But this most grotesque act of political sabotage since the obstruction of Brown v. Board of Education was never about “freedom” or “states’ rights” or “limited government” or “the doctor-patient relationship” or “consumer-driven health care.” For Republicans, it was about power, pure and simple. Now as for the past 20 years, Republicans have feared not that health care reform would fail the American people, but that it would succeed. To put it another way, conservatives have dreaded the prospect that an American public grateful for access to health care could provide Democrats with an enduring majority for years to come.
We know this with certainty, because Republicans and their right-wing cheerleaders have been telling us so for over two decades.
It will never end. The DMN just this week published a Koch-fundedOp-Ed going after Medicaid.
The GOP will do anything and everything – lie, cheat, and steal – to make sure that those in need do not get health care from the government. As long as they’re part of our government they will do everything they can to prove to people that government can’t do anything to help people. And it shows, Obamacare Could Be Covering Millions More. Blame Rick Perry.
The good news this week: as the deadline for this year’s enrollment hits, the Affordable Care Act is working.
After all the obstacles, technological failures, political attacks and confusion, the new ACA exchanges have hit their goals: 7 million people have signed up for a plan in the new marketplaces.
One study suggests that, under all the ACA’s coverage provisions, some 9.5 million people who didn’t have insurance before have coverage now.
There’s still a long way to go — and a lot of enrollment left to do — but the worst fears of ACA advocates, and the fondest wishes of its opponents, haven’t been realized. For those who said it couldn’t be done, or actively tried to sabotage it, this is disappointing. For everyone else, especially the millions of people who finally have access to health care, it’s great news.
However, the numbers of people covered under ACA could — should — be much higher. Why aren’t they? Blame Rick Perry.
The Texas governor is one of the many, many state-level Republicans who are keeping ACA’s coverage numbers down by interfering with the law, most notably through refusal to accept the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid for low-income families.
The Supreme Court’s decision in 2012 opened the door for state-level refusal to accept Medicaid funds, and governors and state legislators in red states grabbed on to refusal as a showy political tactic, a way to prove how hostile they were to President Obama and his signature health care legislation.
It’s a very clever way for politicians like Rick Perry to take an ideological stand, except for the literally millions of people who they’re hurting.
According to research by the Commonwealth Fund and the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly 4 million people could be covered by the ACA’s Medicaid expansion but aren’t, because of the political theater of their leading Republican officials.
The biggest offender is Rick Perry’s Texas, a huge state with high rates of poverty and uninsurance. More than a million Texans could be benefiting from Medicaid expansion, but apparently that’s less important than Perry’s posturing.
It’s worth noting that not every Republican politician has taken this indefensible position — Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona, for example, passed Medicaid expansion over the objections of many of her Republican allies in the legislature. And in normally Republican-leaning Kentucky, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear has worked with a divided state legislature to implement ACA very successfully, putting a huge dent in the state’s uninsurance rate.
You’ll see conservative pundits and politicians attacking the ACA for failing in its mission to cover people, leaving too many people falling into the cracks. That’s adding insult to injury, because the biggest cracks are the ones deliberately created and widened by politicians like Perry.
It’s like wrecking someone’s house and then saying they broke their promise to keep their house clean. And it’s particularly grotesque when you realize this cheap stunt is happening at the expense of the working poor.
Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress are doing everything they can to make the ACA coverage numbers even lower. Every time you look, House Republicans are pushing through another attack on the ACA, with dozens of repeal votes and no end in sight.
They will continue to attack the ACA, mainly for the problems they are not allowing it to fix. What Perry, and all our elected officials should be doing is trying to make the ACA better. It’s by no means what it should be. But there’s no way it can get better when one side is doing everything it can to destroy it, not matter the human cost.
For the past couple of years, I’ve given scores of state leaders and lawmakers a pop quiz: Guess what percentage of the Houston and Dallas ISD school enrollments consist of “white” children? The typical response ranges between “25 percent” and “40 percent.”
The correct answer: 8.2 percent “white” for the Houston ISD and 4.7 percent “white” for Dallas ISD. Most folks gasp. The numbers don’t even appear believable. But they are fact.
The point of the exercise is to gauge awareness of the rapidly changing demographics before pivoting to the more important discussion of the implications.
“White” students are now a minority in such school districts as Plano, Katy, Humble, Arlington, Amarillo, Midland, Lubbock, Tyler, Wichita Falls, Texarkana, and Cypress-Fairbanks. The dramatic change in those places has occurred in the past ten years.
Are “white” families fleeing the suburbs to other spots? No. Heading to private schools or home-schooling? No.
Texas Anglos are simply vanishing.
This gap will only continue to widen. Demographer Steve Murdock notes the average white female is 42 years old compared to an average age of 28 for Latinas. And the fertility rate is 1.9 for the white female while it is 2.7 for the Latina. Demographers say replacement of a population group requires a fertility rate of at least 2.1.
Roughly 112,000 Texas “whites” die each year compared to about 32,000 Hispanic deaths. Approximately 133,000 Texas Anglos will turn 18 this year compared to some 171,000 Hispanics. The gap will widen from here on out. For example, there are 118,000 white 4-year-olds in Texas today compared to more than 194,000 Hispanic 4-year-olds.
The future demography of Texas is not hard to predict.
Whites are projected to make up 3.9 percent of the state’s population growth between now and 2040, compared to 78.2 percent for Texas Hispanics.
Those are interesting stats. Here’s the important one: ALL of our K-12 enrollment growth over the past decade comes from low income children – defined by family income qualifying the students for free and reduced cost school lunches. Those low income students now make up 61 percent of our school enrollment.
These children often do not benefit from parents reading to them. Their vocabularies are much less developed than those from middle-income families. They’re way behind when they arrive in the 1st grade. Many drop-out years later. A whopping 47 percent of low income high school students from the Class of 2015 were off track to graduate, according to testimony in last year’s school finance trial.
Why does this matter? Murdock, who served as director of the U.S Census Bureau in the George W. Bush Administration, projects that 3 out of 10 Texas workers will not have a high school diploma by 2040. Also, in 25 years, the average Texas household income will be some $6,500 less than it was in the year 2000. The figure is not inflation-adjusted so it will be worse than it sounds. Basically, today’s children, collectively, stand to be worse off than preceding generations.
That’s not the Texas miracle our current governor is promoting.
That reminds me of this quote from the book Winner-Take-All Politics by Paul Pierson and Jacob Hacker, “Until we see clearly how the economy is constructed by government inaction as well as action, any of the most effective reforms will evade our sight.” Our state government has been neglecting our biggest needs for so long now, and that inaction, if continued, will cause bigger and more costly action down the road. It’s also clear that most of this is known by our elected officials.
But here is where it gets complicated. Republican lawmakers cut $200 million from Pre K in 2011 as part of their $5.4 billion reduction in public education funding. And the Texas Legislature will include more Tea Party members than ever before when it convenes next year. You won’t hear that group campaigning for more Pre K funding. In fact, you can expect the Tea Party folks to push for more r reductions, which will further compound our problems.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott is not likely to promote universal pre K, either; especially considering the state GOP’s platform:
Early Childhood Development – We believe that parents are best suited to train their children in their early development and oppose mandatory pre-school and Kindergarten. We urge Congress to repeal government-sponsored programs that deal with early childhood development.
We know low income students now make up an ever-growing super-majority of our school enrollment and many struggle to graduate. We also know Murdock’s projections of dire consequences facing this state in the out years. So what, if anything, are we doing about it?
Not much, it appears. An influential Republican lawmaker told me a few years ago the leadership doesn’t care about what happens to Texas in 25 years. The immediate focus is more important: the next election. Another influential Republican leader bluntly told me that talking about the challenges of low-income students will hurt you in the GOP primary.[Emphasis added]
And the media isn’t paying attention, either. Those demographics-related problems aren’t sexy enough to pursue. Too far into the future. It’s easier to look at Democrat gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis’ imprecise biography or to focus on the vulgar, has-been rocker Ted Nugent with whom Republican Greg Abbott pals around. Or, maybe it’s easier to write stories about low Democratic voter turnout in a primary that didn’t have any meaningful contested races or full-throated campaigns to stimulate turnout. There’s always a story to be written about the candidate horse race, too; that’s what gets attention, win and lose competitions.
Davis and Democratic Lt. Gov. candidate Leticia Van de Putte understand and embrace the New Texas. They will push and promote education during their summer and fall campaigns. Republicans don’t appear to have gotten there – yet. Maybe they will. The GOP seems to be more comfortable with the Old Texas, which is what you see when you enter the Texas Senate or House chambers.
There are no Hispanic Republicans among the 31 state senators; there are only 3 Hispanic Republicans among the 150 House members, and that number could drop after the fall election.
It will be interesting to watch candidates for the state’s top political leadership spots this fall. How much attention will they (and the media) focus on what soon will turn into the state’s No. 1 problem? I’m guessing there won’t be much written about our future failures.
Scharrer has a unique perspective on this. He’s a former Texas Capitol bureau reporter and last session was communications director for Senate Finance Chair Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands).
Texas will be unable to provide the kind of education that’s necessary for a successful future with a tea party legislature. I would encourage anyone who thinks it’s possible to go watch this discussion and not come away disheartened. The next session will be like the last one, only worse. This continued inaction, on the most important issues by our state government, means the needed reforms are even further away.
What Democratic candidate Mike Collier is doing thus far in the race for Comptroller of Texas is spot on.
The wing nuts in the Texas GOP, for too long, have been getting away with saying crazy things and not being held accountable for them. Showing the painful reality of their right wing fantasies on Texans is what’s been lacking for too long.
And voters need to understand that a 20% plus tax on everything they buy would be an economic disaster. Especially for those at the bottom of the income scale, who are already hurting.
Local property taxes account for roughly 47 percent of tax revenue in Texas, according to a 2012 report from the comptroller’s office. State and local sales taxes make up 32 percent of revenue.
Another 2012 study – written by former deputy comptroller Billy Hamilton and published by a Republican group called Texas Tax Truth – said consumers would have to pay up to 25 percent in state sales tax to make up for the approximate $45 billion in lost revenue caused by abolishing property taxes. [Emphasis added]
“There’s no way that Hegar can make a sensible convincing policy point that we should get rid of the property tax in favor of a broader, larger sales tax,” said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University.
And, the shift from property taxes would deprive local governments, school districts and other entities of their primary method of revenue collection, said John Kennedy, an analyst at Texas Taxpayers and Research Association. That would mean municipalities would have to rely primarily on the state to finance their operations.
Making school districts beg the state even more for funding. That’s another right wing dream come true. This is just another right wing fantasy that would hurt the majority of Texans. We need real solutions not more tea party nonsense.
Dos Centavos reviews the biopic of Cesar Chavez and reminds us that the radical fringe in Texas would like to keep his name and others like him out of our kids’ classrooms.
Horwitz at Texpatriate made the case for anyone but Hogan, including Kinky Friedman, in the Democratic primary for Agriculture Commissioner.
The Texas Central Railway, the latest effort to launch high speed rail from Houston to Dallas, made their initial plans public this week and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs had the advance (before) and the post-press conference report (
Texas has a woefully inadequate and unfair tax system, and that puts us in a bind when we need stuff. Because as WCNews at Eye on Williamson reminds us Stuff Costs Money.
Texas Leftist is glad Democrats have finally stumbled upon a winning strategy for 2014. The questions now… Can we keep the fire burning through November, and will Greg Abbott/ GOP weasel out of having general election debates??
The two eventually ended up in a back and forth over a failed bill last session to prohibit the application of Sharia law in Texas courts.
Dewhurst said he supports such measures “101 percent” but acknowledged the bill last session died in a Senate committee. He pledged Friday to switch committee chairman mid-session in if the bill languishes again next time the Legislature meets in 2015.
Patrick said the failure of the Sharia bill lies squarely with Dewhurst.
“Sharia law should have come out” of committee,” Patrick said. “When there’s a law, there’s a bill, legislation … that’s the difference-maker, the lieutenant governor. You don’t blame things that don’t happen on senators and take credit for things that did happen that senators passed.”
Ho. Ly. Crap! Sharia. F-ing. Law! That along with immigration and border security are the most important issues to the GOP voters in Texas. Amazing. If that’s what this runoff is going to be about then the people of Texas need Leticia Van de Putte as the next Lt. Governor of Texas.
In one TV ad, Patrick – the frontrunner headed into a runoff – touts his opposition to in-state tuition at Texas universities for qualifying undocumented children. And Patrick’s campaign website uses the phrase “Stop the Illegal Invasion!” as a fundraising tool.
Now, several Hispanic Republican leaders are voicing opposition to Patrick’s rhetoric, and the overall tone of the Lieutenant Governor’s race.
“And since that time I think you have seen a significant throttle back in some of the more harsh rhetoric that has been used on the trail,” Villalba says. But others, including Houston businessman Massey Villarreal, went as far as to say they that if Patrick won the GOP nomination, they’d back Democratic nominee Leticia van de Putte.
George Antuna, cofounder of the Hispanic Republicans of Texas, understands why some would contemplate backing the other party. “You feel kind of in a quandary when you’re thinking to yourself … all my hard work … I feel like I’m going backwards when it comes to Latino outreach or our Latino efforts,” Antuna says. “And so I can totally understand why Massey may feel like that, as well as many others.”
And Van de Putte has also found some unlikely Republican allies in her bid, which will pit her against either state Sen. Dan Patrick or current Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the general election. The primary runoff is May 27.
“I am part of Greg Abbott’s finance team and John Cornyn’s fundraising team. I am a Republican fundraiser and bundler, but I am hosting a fundraiser for Leticia,” said Louis Barrios, a Texas restaurant owner. “I have switched sides on this race because it is the most important race that we have had in Texas and I am leaving my Republican credentials at the door on this race.”
At issue for Barrios is what he sees as a harsh and alienating approach to immigration and Hispanics from both Patrick, who likened immigration from Mexico to an invasion, and Dewhurst, who has said that he will focus on securing the border.
E-mails to both campaigns were not returned.
“If anything is going to bring out the Latino vote, it’s going to be a Dan Patrick,” Barrios said. “He is waking and kicking a sleeping giant. Leticia’s race, this is one that can really be won.”
Barrios has been making phone calls for Van de Putte, trying to generate support among Republicans and business leaders in Texas, and others have gone public with their preference.
Barrios said he can imagine Republicans voting for Abbott and Van de Putte, which is possible in Texas because the governor and lieutenant governor run separately. George W. Bush had a Democratic lieutenant governor.
“I am not going to compare and contrast candidates but she brings qualities that are appealing to all sides and genders and races,” said Marcie Zlotnik, who started two retail electricity providers and describes herself as an independent who leans Republican. “She has Republican support and nobody is afraid to say it either.”
Certainly Van de Putte and Davis will be busy working on those who still think Abbott is a viable option. When we have such major problems with transportation, water, education and health care and the GOP candidates are focused on Sharia Law, it’s no wonder Texas, even Republicans, are looking for an alternative to this madness.
[UPDATE]: Van de Putte will be going around the state the next couple of weeks, go see her.