01.22.15

60 percent of 30 percent

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Money In Politics, Taxes at 10:23 am by wcnews

TxCapitol

The only thing sadder then the inauguration this week has been the reaction to it of retiring Texas Village Paul Burka.  Also his lamenting the end of “adult behavior” because the 2/3rds rule is no more.

I have always been a fan of the two-thirds rule because it gave the minority a fighting chance to take on the majority and it required a level of bridge-building and consensus to pass legislation. On a more basic level, it imposed “adult behavior on people who might be otherwise inclined.” Unfortunately for the Democrats, their party just doesn’t have the numbers to fend off the majority, so Patrick doesn’t have to worry about bridge-building, consensus, or adult behavior as the presiding officer.

I’m not sure what Lege he’s been covering for the last 10 years, but adult behavior went out the door quite a while ago. We get it, things have changed over the last 40 years . This is what happens when we have one-party GOP rule, they change the rules.

When 60 percent of 30 percent of registered voters are allowed to pick our elected leaders this is what we get. I wish Scott Turner would have been elected Speaker. The Democrats should have voted for him. Nothing will speed Democrats back to power in Texas faster then giving the wing nuts control. Once they break Texas then maybe we can get back to sane and rational government – Burka’s adult hehavior.

Don’t get me wrong, there will be serious negative consequences because of how our state is now “governed”.  Anyone that’s not wealthy and/or connected is left out.  And as long as our elected officials are allowed to essentially bribe corporations with tax payer money – likely the same corporations that bankroll their campaigns – little is likely to change.

 

01.20.15

Inaguration Day – Texans Are Weary, An Opportunity Awaits

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, Bad Government Republicans at 4:36 pm by wcnews

TxInnaug

I’ve been asked more questions about politics at work in the last week then I have in the last decade.  Generally speaking they’re people that don’t vote and are wondering how someone like Dan Patrick, in particular, was able to get elected.  In a mostly nice way I try and explain that’s what happens when 30% of the registered voters show up to vote.  Then they fall silent.

It was disheartening to listen to the vapid regurgitation of GOP talking points from our new Governor and Lt. Governor. Snarky comments abounded as my coworkers watched the proceedings.  Most think Patrick is unqualified for the job, and his religious talk scared them.  And Abbott is not a good speaker.  But again, they don’t vote, and they wonder how this happened.  I get the sense that they never thought it was possible for someone like him to get elected no who did or didn’t vote.

But now they’ve realized they’re going to have to live with this for 4 years and they’re starting to ask questions.  The sad part is I’m still not sure they’ll vote in the next election.  One thing I do know as I talk about the issues with them, they any tax cut won’t effect them.  They no longer see their pay rise,  and the cost of everything – except gas recently – continues to rise.  They see the rich getting richer and the rest of us struggling.  And they don’t see good things ahead for their children, and they believe neither political party is on their side.

Which is why this article piqued my interest, Why Elizabeth Warren Strikes Such a Chord.

It seems like just about everyone these days is talking about Elizabeth Warren. I saw Jay Leno -not a very political guy or especially progressive- the other day on Bill Maher’s show, talking about how shocked he was that Elizabeth Warren was only 18 months younger than Hilary because of how vital and energetic she seemed. A focus group of swing voters, who traditionally don’t follow politics very closely, in Colorado a couple of weeks back were disdainful of the politicians they had heard of like Jeb Bush and Hillary who were likely running for president, but loved what they were hearing about Elizabeth Warren. The Sunday “Doonesbury” this weekend was a plea to “run, Lizzie, run” because “she hears the voices no one else hears”. The Washington Post print addition on Sunday had a front page article whose headline asked “What does Elizabeth Warren want?”

Why is a first-term Senator in the minority party, a wonky college professor who had never held elective office before 2013, a woman who insists to everyone who asks that she is not running for president, striking such a chord in American politics right now? Why are hundreds of thousands of people and some of the biggest organizations in American politics begging her to run for president despite her apparent lack of interest? Where did she get the political power to stop the president’s political nominations and almost bring down budget bills that seemed destined for easy bi-partisan passage? Why is the media obsessed with her?

As great as Elizabeth Warren is (and she is), I think the chord she strikes has at least as much to do with the moment we are in as to who she is. I think most Americans in both parties have come to believe that government is too bought off by big money special interests to care about them anymore. They are worn down by an economic system that doesn’t seem to reward working hard and playing by the rules, in Bill Clinton’s famous words, anymore; and they are cynical that the establishment politicians in both parties seem disconnected to the real world of no wage increases and rising costs of necessities. Elizabeth Warren excites people so much because she actually seems like she knows what is going in everyday people’s lives, and because she seems like she will take on the powers that be in both party to fight on their behalf. That is so refreshing to voters and activists alike, and it is turning Elizabeth into an icon that people respond to. She calls “Charge!” on a nomination fight for a position that no one has ever heard of, or a legislative fight that they weren’t even aware of, and people answer the call because they trust her- they know in their hearts that she is fighting for them.

[...]

The large numbers of activists and voters who follow Elizabeth know she is not only smart and tough, but trustworthy to the core. And in this cynical age of politics, where big money and rank partisanship seems to drive everything in DC, having someone you can trust to fight for you, to be on your side rather than on big money’s side, creates a loyalty and a passion that is powerful.

[...]

Beyond those policy proposals, which would go a long way in making our economy work far better for working people in this country, there’s a simple answer: she wants a country where we invest in all of our people, and where everyday folks get the rewards for working hard and playing by the rules. She wants a country where the government is on the side of working people rather than just the wealthiest individuals and biggest businesses.

There a millions of Texans and Americans who want a party or just a bunch of their fellow citizens to fix our rigged political system. They will support those who will fight for it. Those, like our new Governor and Lt. Gov., who are for more of the same will not inspire them to get out and vote. The opportunity is there, my hope is that some politicians in Texas will start talking and acting like Elizabeth Warren.

Here are statements from Progress Texas and Texas Forward on today’s inauguration.

01.17.15

See The Corruption Inherent In The System?

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Money In Politics at 4:37 pm by wcnews

corruptionimages

When one party runs it all for an extended period of time this kind of thing happens.

Whitmire cited reported conflicts of interest within Janek’s office and a Statesman investigation that revealed an official in that office skirted procurement laws as he steered millions to 21CT, an Austin data analytics company hired to aid in Medicaid fraud investigations.

That official, Jack Stick, resigned under pressure Dec. 12 from his job of chief counsel for the agency. The next week, his former boss, Inspector General Doug Wilson, also resigned.

Three officials were placed on administrative leave with pay: Erica Stick, Jack Stick’s wife and Janek’s chief of staff; Frianita Wilson, the wife of Doug Wilson and contract manager in the Department of Family and Protective Services; and Cody Cazares, Jack Stick’s chief of staff whose salary more than doubled in three years.

In the same office, Casey Haney, who worked for Janek when he was a senator, received $97,000 in advance for an MBA program at the University of Texas. Patricia Vojack, a deputy executive commissioner, received $37,000 for a graduate degree. Both payments violated state policy.

The newspaper has asked for updates on those employees and their status with the commission, but agency spokesperson Stephanie Goodman has not returned calls.

On Thursday, the Statesman reported that Janek had sought a meeting with House Speaker Joe Straus late last year to discuss 21CT. Straus is on a key legislative panel that was poised to approve a $90 million contract extension with 21CT. It’s not clear if Janek was pushing for the contract approval after the Statesman first began raising questions about the contract in mid-November.

No bid contracts and no oversight. No politician wants those in their party to get in trouble…it makes them all look bad.

And this, Perry veto killed investigation into no-bid contract at DPS, certainly makes outgoing GOP Gov. Rick Perry actions – for which he’s been indicted – look even worse.

A year and a half before a no-bid state contract collapsed in scandal last month, a criminal investigation into tens of millions of dollars worth of deals awarded through a similar process by Rick Perry’s administration was derailed by the funding veto that got the governor indicted, according to the prosecutor who led the probe.

The earlier inquiry, which concerned Texas Department of Public Safety contracts for Perry’s highly touted and controversial border-security program, lasted more than a year before abruptly shuttering, said Gregg Cox, director of the Public Integrity Unit at the Travis County District Attorney’s office.

“We lacked the resources to continue that investigation,” Cox said. “Because the staff was cut when our budget was vetoed.”

Perry vetoed $7.5 million in state funding for Cox’s office in June 2013, saying at the time he had lost confidence in District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg after she was arrested for drunken driving, pleaded guilty and spent three weeks in jail. The governor was indicted last year on abuse of office and official oppression charges, which he and his lawyers have denounced as a politically motivated farce.

Seems like less of a farce now.

And this, our soon to be Lt. Gov. appears to be learning the system pretty well, Patrick Pulled in Hefty Donations After Election.

Patrick raked in $2.6 million between October and December, with many large donations rolling in after the Nov. 4 election, including $50,000 from Dallas telecommunications billionaire Kenny Troutt, $125,000 from the Border Health PAC, $50,000 from the Kickapoo Tribe and $25,000 from the Texas Association of Realtors.

Patrick also enjoyed several lavish fundraisers: a $17,000 event thrown by HillCo, an Austin-based lobbying firm; a $10,000 event hosted by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones; and an $8,000 event given by Dallas tax consultant Brint Ryan. Heading into the 2015 legislative session, Patrick has almost $4 million in his campaign account.

Among Patrick’s other top donors are Texans for Lawsuit Reform, which gave his campaign $125,000; Julianna Holt, the wife of San Antonio businessman Peter Holt, who gave $50,000; and Houston businessman Hushang Ansary, who gave $50,000.

Several members of Patrick’s new Lieutenant Governor’s Advisory Boards also gave large contributions over the last four months. Dallas hoteliers Barry Andrews and Bob Rowling both gave $25,000, Midland oilman Tim Dunn gave $50,000, Dallas energy mogul Kelcy Warren gave $50,000, and Brint Ryan’s Ryan PAC gave $25,000.

Click here to see the full list of Patrick’s donors.

What a man of the people. I’m sure the tea party’ers in Texas see nothing wrong with Patrick becoming one the them.

One party rule, see the corruption inherent in the system?

10.29.14

TX GOP Voter ID Law Denied 93-Year-Old Veteran A Ballot

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Elections at 9:23 am by wcnews

Texas Election Judge Had To Turn Away 93-Year-Old Veteran Due To Strict Voter ID Law.

In the six days that early voting has been underway in Texas, election judge William Parsley on Sunday said he has only seen one potential voter turned away at his polling location, the Metropolitan Multi-Services Center in downtown Houston.

“An elderly man, a veteran. Ninety-three years old,” Parsley, an election judge for the last 15 years, told ThinkProgress. “His license had expired.”

Under Texas’ new voter ID law, one of the strictest in the nation, citizens are required to present one of seven forms of photo identification to vote. The identification can be a Texas-issued driver’s license, a federally-issued veteran’s ID card, or a gun registration card, among other forms. Licenses can be expired, but not for more than 60 days.

The man Parsley said he had to turn away was a registered voter, but his license had been expired for a few years, likely because he had stopped driving. Parsley said the man had never gotten a veteran’s identification card. And though he had “all sorts” of other identification cards with his picture on it, they weren’t valid under the law — so the election judges told him he had to go to the Department of Public Safety, and renew his license.

“He just felt real bad, you know, because he’s voted all his life,” Parsley said.

The Texas GOP’s excuse back in 2011 for passing such a restrictive bill, that if there is just one case of “voter fraud” that’s too many, can now be seen for what it was.  An attempt to keep certain types of voters from voting.  The reality is this law will disenfranchise many times more voters then ever voted fraudulently.

And there are hundreds of thousands of Texans that are losing their right to vote because of this law. The worst part about this story is that this was the Texas GOP’s plan all along. They knew this was going to happen when they passed the law back in 2011, Republicans Knew Voter ID Law Would Disenfranchise over 500,000 Voters.

There have been only two cases of voter impersonation in the past ten years in Texas. To prevent a third case, Republicans have passed a law that will prevent over half a million registered Texans from voting. What makes it worse is that they knew how many people would be disenfranchised.

In 2011, Republican lawmakers requested information from the Texas Secretary of State and Department of Public Safety regarding how many registered voters did not have state-issued photo IDs. The answer was at least 504,000 and potentially as many as 844,000. But that didn’t stop them.

According to the Texas Tribune, “Republican state officials working to pass a voter photo ID law in 2011 knew that more than 500,000 of the state’s registered voters did not have the credentials needed to cast ballots under the new requirement. But they did not share that information with lawmakers rushing to pass the legislation.”

David Dewhurst was one of them. According to an elections official, “Lt. Gov. Dewhurst was aware of the no-match list results showing 678,000 to 844,000 voters being potentially disenfranchised.”

They knew so many would lose their right to vote and that didn’t matter to them. As long as it kept them in power, damn the rights of others.  Kuff has more, The larger issue on voter ID.

10.22.14

Proposition 1 – The Least They Could Do

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Election 2014, Transportation, Uncategorized at 9:39 am by wcnews

TrafficJamSign

The transportation issue over the last decade has always been a microcosm of what is wrong with the way Texas is currently governed.  Roads are something that effect almost every Texans’ life on a daily basis.  And for the most part they’ve been neglected and allowed to deteriorate.  Over that time it’s become apparent to anyone who lives and drives in Texas that we have a transportation problem.

The reason we can’t fix this issue is not because we lack resources, it’s because we lack leadership.  This did not just happen since Rick Perry took office, although he’s been a more than willing facilitator of the neglect.  It’s the Reagan-era narrative, the story too many believe, of how things work.  Government is the problem, and if  it would just get out of the way, then everything will flourish.  Obviously, that has not happened.

That mentality shows up in this statement from a WSJ article, In Texas, Toll Roads Proliferate—and a Backlash Builds.

“It’s almost impossible to get around without paying a toll now,” said Bobby Tillman, a 63-year-old web developer from Sachse, Texas, who spoke against the road at a public hearing last month that filled a 1,500-seat high-school auditorium. “We pay taxes for roads and bridges, and if that’s not enough, if you can’t afford it, don’t build it.”

The utter foolishness of his statement may not be clear until this reality sets in.  It’s not enough, that’s why they’re not building roads, and why toll roads, which you spoke against, are being built everywhere.

The toll boom is taking place in part because a primary source of highway-construction funding in the U.S., a federal tax of 18.4 cents per gallon on gasoline, hasn’t changed since 1993. Many states also haven’t raised state gasoline taxes for decades, including Texas, which hasn’t increased its 20-cents- per-gallon tax since 1991.

I wonder how much food Mr. Sachse would be able to afford if he hadn’t had a rise in income since 1991? The cost of everything has gone up since 1991. Certainly the cost of road construction materials have gone up since 1991. For anyone to seriously believe that current/1991 tax levels are adequate to maintain and build new transportation infrastructure shows their ignorance.

But they’ve been lead to believe that the government is wasteful, ineffective, and can do nothing to bring positive change to their lives.  And the Texas GOP, since taking over control of Texas government, has been doing their best to prove them right.  How can anyone expect a political party that believes government is the problem to use government to solve problems?

But it’s worse then that.  The GOP is not just wrecking government, they’re using government to make themselves and their friends and donors rich.

“We can go through the list over and over, but at the end of every line is this: Republicans believe this country should work for those who are rich, those who are powerful, those who can hire armies of lobbyists and lawyers,” she said Friday in Englewood, Colo. “I will tell you we can whimper about it, we can whine about it or we can fight back. I’m here with [Sen.] Mark Udall so we can fight back.”

[...]

Her grand theme is economic inequality and her critique, both populist and progressive, includes a searing indictment of Wall Street. Liberals eat it up.

The game is rigged, and the Republicans rigged it,” she said Saturday at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. The line drew a huge ovation — as did mention of legislation she has sponsored to allow students to refinance their student loans.

[...]

The centerpiece, though, is her progressive analysis of how bad decisions in Washington have allowed powerful interests to re-engineer the financial system so that it serves the wealthy and well-connected, not the middle class.

[...]

There once was consensus on the need for government investment in areas such as education and infrastructure that produced long-term dividends, she said. “Here’s the amazing thing: It worked. It absolutely, positively worked.”

That last part is the most important part of what Sen. Elizabeth Warren said. We know how to fix this problem, but far too few are telling the story in the way that Warren is telling it.

Now for proposition 1. At best it’s a “band aid” or will “build a flyover or two“. It will do little if anything to address the neglect of the last 20 plus years. Is it worth voting for? Probably not, but it’s likely to pass anyway. Because when something that’s needed is being held hostage the ransom gets paid.

Our GOP run state government did all it is capable of doing right now, the least they could do.

09.29.14

Abbott Corrupt Like Perry Regarding Enterprise Fund

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Corruption at 8:03 am by wcnews

images

[UPDATE]:  Via Slater, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis has called on GOP opponent Greg Abbott to return $1.4 million in contributions from beneficiaries of the Texas Enterprise Fund and for an independent investigation into Abbott’s role keeping secret records of the troubled agency.

“Greg Abbott used the power of his office to orchestrate a cover up of the transfer of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds to companies who never even completed an application for the funds – blocking the release of applications he knew didn’t exist,” Davis said.

“Mr. Abbott did not recover one dime of taxpayer dollars for the Enterprise Fund. Instead, he accepted more than $1.4 million in campaign contributions from the very taxpayer funded grant recipients he was supposed to be watching – and helped hide the fact hundreds of millions of our tax dollars were handed out without any oversight or accountability.”

Via Wayne Slater, Greg Abbott shielded problem-plagued business fund by withholding applications that didn’t even exist.

A decade ago, Attorney General Greg Abbott invoked a cloak of secrecy around the Texas Enterprise Fund. When The Dallas Morning News requested the application of a company seeking taxpayer subsidies, Abbott said no. He ruled that the applications for money from the $500 million job-creation fund might contain confidential corporate information. The company was Vought Aircraft, which wanted a $35 million subsidy to expand in the Dallas area. As it turns out, there was no application, a new audit found.

Had the attorney general responded to the newspaper’s open-records request in 2004 by disclosing that Vought – and other businesses with their hands out – were getting millions in state money without submitting applications or specific promises to create jobs, it might have been an early signal of problems bedeviling the fund. Abbott has received more than $1 million in campaign contributions from companies that got state money.

[...]

Abbott is the Republican nominee for governor. The Abbott campaign did not respond directly to the question why Abbott formally blocked release of an application that didn’t exist. His Democratic opponent, Wendy Davis, sponsored the bill asking for the audit of the problem-plagued business-subsidy fund.

In 2004, when The News initially sought the Vought application, Perry’s chief of staff, Phil Wilson, said the governor’s office didn’t object to releasing the applications. But he pointed to the Abbott ruling that “we would be in violation of the law if we released the document to you.”

Last week’s audit found that in the case of Vought, which was acquired by Triumph Aerostructures in 2010, auditors couldn’t determine how many jobs actually were created. What they did find is that at least 450 of those jobs should have been disqualified, including eight jobs in Everett, Wash., 144 posts that were empty for more than a year, 110 that weren’t full-time jobs and 174 contractor positions. Under terms of the agreement, the recipient paid back some money, but undercalculated the amount owed the state. [Emphasis added]

What an Attorney General with integrity would have said was that Vaught did not submit an application, so there’s nothing to rule on. But he instead decided protect the scheme, the governor, and his campaign contributors.

It’s pretty obvious that Perry and Abbott knew things were going on with this “fund” that the public wouldn’t like and they made a decision to keep it quiet, and out of the public eye, for as long as they could.  They can’t do that any longer.

 

09.26.14

More Trouble For Perry – Shocked To Find Corruption Going At Enterprise Fund

Posted in Bad Government Republicans, Corruption at 10:40 am by wcnews

One of the most enduring lines of attack by conservatives over the decades, and most blindly lapped up by too many voters, have been their attacks on big government.  Inherent in that attack is that ending government programs and handing them off to the “free market” and corporations will make it all better.

But that’s not the case.  No state and governor has been a bigger proponent of this ideology then Texas and Rick Perry.  So it’s not surprising that his enterprise fund scheme is looking worse then the big government they’ve denounced over the years.  Via the Express-News, Scathing audit rakes governor’s office over Texas Enterprise Fund.

Gov. Rick Perry’s Texas Enterprise Fund doled out hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars to businesses and universities that never formally applied for the funds, according to a scathing new state audit that casts a shadow over one of the potential presidential candidate’s signature programs.

The 107-page state auditor’s report raised concerns over nearly every aspect of the “deal-closing” fund, from initial oversight of how grants are awarded to the mechanisms by which the state recoups taxpayer money when an investment fails.

Faulty monitoring and reporting meant the office of the governor often failed to live up to its own policies, as well as requirements for the fund laid out in state law, auditors said.

The revelations had the governor’s office in a defensive stance Thursday as activists balked over oversight deficiencies and at least one congressman called for a criminal inquiry. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who is supposed to sign off on all awards, said he would not OK any more grants until the auditors’ recommendations have been fully implemented.

One of the most damning revelations in the audit found that 44 percent of the total fund disbursements — $222 million over 10 years — went to entities that never submitted a formal application or were not required to create jobs, including $50 million each to the University of Texas at Dallas and Texas A&M.

“As a result of the weaknesses in the office’s monitoring, it was not possible to determine the number of jobs that recipients of awards from the Texas Enterprise Fund have created,” the audit noted. “Those weaknesses also affected the office’s ability to impose clawback penalties on recipients for noncompliance with the requirements in their award agreements.”

Of course the Democrats are trying to stick this to the GOP, and the GOP is running from it like roaches when the lights are turned on.

State Sen. Kirk Watson, a Democrat who as a former Austin mayor has supported the incentives, on Thursday called for a halt in disbursements “until we can ensure integrity of the Enterprise Fund.”

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, part of the Texas House when its members unanimously approved the fund in 2003, went further.

“The results of the audit are extremely disturbing,” Castro said. “They suggest a criminal malfeasance or corruption among those responsible. I fully expect that state and federal authorities would review this situation for any activity that may violate the law.”

He also expressed dismay that this week’s report marked the first time the state performed a comprehensive audit of the fund, required after lawmakers passed legislation in 2013 to mandate such a review. State Sen. Wendy Davis, the Democratic nominee for governor, sponsored the legislation.

“This is exactly why we need to root out the old insider network in Austin,” Davis said in a statement, recycling a line she uses to criticize her Republican opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbott. “As governor, I will protect taxpayers by ensuring that the Texas Enterprise Fund is working with proper oversight and transparency to create good paying jobs and to attract new businesses that will ensure Texas continues to lead in the 21st century.”

And the oversight of a GOP-controlled legislature was non-existent.

Critics say the state’s incentive programs amount to little more than political slush funds, handing Perry million-dollar photo-ops and encouraging quid pro-quos with top donors.

Even Republicans expected to win the state’s top jobs have criticized the incentives, with Abbott saying government should “get out of the business of picking winners and losers” and GOP nominee for lieutenant governor Dan Patrick calling for the fund’s elimination.

The governor’s office has sole control over negotiating and issuing grants from the fund, with the lieutenant governor and house speaker required to sign off on final agreements. The audit, however, found House and Senate leaders often were not properly included in the process.

“The Office did not consistently provide decision makers with complete and accurate information related to potential Texas Enterprise Funds,” the auditors wrote.

But that’s what happens when a governor of a one-party state stays in office four 14 years. Everyone in the GOP is shocked, shocked to find corruption going on here.

09.18.14

Perry Is Out Of Touch On His Transportation Legacy

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Cronyism, Transportation at 11:57 am by wcnews

Rick Perry appears completely out of touch with the transportation situation in Texas, and how bad he screwed it up, (Remember the Trans-Texas Corridor?), Perry Touts Legacy to Toll Road Group.

Calling Texas “the mecca of innovation on transportation infrastructure,” Gov. Rick Perry touted the state’s approach to expanding roads without raising taxes in Tuesday morning remarks to the toll road industry.

Perry was the keynote speaker at the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) annual conference, held this year in Austin.

“Thank you for making a difference in people’s lives,” Perry said to more than 400 conference attendees, most of whom were from outside of Texas. “What you do in your communities, and in transportation infrastructure, is how we will really turn this economy around in this country.”

In his speech, Perry touted his work in transportation during his 13-year tenure as governor, particularly his backing of a statewide proliferation of toll roads and his use of other financing tools to avoid raising taxes.

“We realized early on that pay-as-you-go wasn’t going to help us meet all of the requirements that we had as a state,” Perry said. “So we explored new ways of financing, including toll roads, but also ways in which we structure our budget and take advantage of historically low interest rates, all to ensure that money flows to these road construction projects and to maintenance.”

Spoken like someone who’s been chauffeured around Austin for the last 13 years.

He is right about one thing. The way we used to fund roads in Texas was chucked and replaced with a helter-skelter system of toll roads and cronyism. That most Texans see them as a tax increase anyway.

Most people in Texas hate the toll road schemes Perry and the GOP have instituted.  There are a litany of problems associated with toll roads in Texas.  They’re overpriced, poorly designed, needing a bailout, not easing congestion, and are full of billing snafu’s, to name a few.

It’s pretty easy to see now that if it wasn’t for the neglect of the last 20 years, just raising the gas tax and indexing it with inflation, would have been the best solution.

It’s understandable that no one wants to pay more taxes.  But under the old system at least the tax money went to build roads.  Now the money is diverted to pay for budget shortfalls, or more likely goes to  corporate cronies of Texas politicians like Perry, to build the toll roads that go bankrupt and need a taxpayer bailout anyway.  I don’t know, maybe some people think that’s a better system?

Whichever you prefer it’s pretty obvious to most every Texan that Perry’s transportation legacy is not what he thinks it is.  We’re all still stuck in traffic over the ideological neglect we’ve been subjected to over the last 13 years.

Further Reading:

A few snippets from Tuesday’s Senate Tranportation Committee hearing in Austin on Tuesday, Texas lawmakers look for new ways to fund highways. This from the sole Texas Republican who is dealing with reality.

Frustration with the mounting debt — a significant portion of Texas’ total debt — boiled over in a Texas Senate committee hearing Tuesday morning to pave a way forward.

“We have basically run this state with debt on a credit card, and now we’ve maxed out the credit card,” said state Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler). “All this talk of no new revenue the last ten years, and what have we done? We’ve mortgaged the future of this state. When you sell bonds it’s a tax on a future generation because we didn’t have the courage to do the right thing.”

“Now we’re in a mess because we’ve maxed out the credit card, and we’re going to sit here another six months talking about the need and never figure out a way to pay for it,” Eltife continued. “We’ve got to put this state back on a pay-as-you-go plan for all of state government. That’s a true balanced budget, not using debt every session to balance our books.”

And Leticia Van de Putte reminds us about the diversions.

Many lawmakers have also have voiced frustration over money collected from dedicated fees which has gone unspent. After sitting in on Tuesday morning’s hearing, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) told KVUE the practice must stop. “I think what Texans ought to be absolutely appalled at is the number of dedicated fees and taxes that are supposed to go to highways and to building of roads, when in fact they’re being diverted to certify the budget.”

09.02.14

The GOP’s Ongoing Plan To Keep The Voting Populace Low

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Corruption, Elections at 9:51 am by wcnews

“..our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
- Paul Weyrich, “father” of the right-wing movement and co-founder of the Heritage Foundation

If you were not paying attention to state news over the holiday weekend, (And who could blame you?), you may have missed the DMN story on Texas AG Greg Abbott’s years-long scheme to sabotage minority voter registration efforts.  It’s the latest chapter in the Texas GOP’s goal to keep the voting populace low, Abbott’s Houston raid didn’t end with arrests, but shut down voter drive.

The most egregious part of this is that they never even prove anything illegal happened. It looks like just plain intimidation by the AG’s office.

The investigation was closed one year after the raid, with no charges filed. But for Houston Votes, the damage was done. Its funding dried up, and its efforts to register more low-income voters ended. Its records and office equipment never were returned. Instead, under a 2013 court order obtained by Abbott’s office, they were destroyed.

In the words of George W. Bush, “Mission accomplished”.  The funniest part, in a sad way, way this.

The News on June 10 filed a public records request with the attorney general for the case file. Abbott’s office, which is in charge of enforcing the state’s open records law, asked itself for a ruling on whether those records must be released. In an Aug. 28 letter, the attorney general’s office ruled that it may withhold the records under state law.

Today starts the trial of their continued efforts to keep the voting populace low, Texas voter ID trial begins as elections ramp up.

Kuff has much more on Abbott’s latest misstep, Abbott’s voter registration persecution.

And points to this from Nonsequiteuse, Greg Abbott: Arrogant, Dangerous, and a Craven Hypocrite.

Time after time, Abbott has demonstrated that the rules apply one way for him, and another way for the rest of us.

He championed tort reform, drastically limiting the amount someone can recover in a personal injury trial after he, himself, recovered a very large settlement in a personal injury trial. Remind yourself of the details here.

He drilled his own well to water his lawn while the city and county he lives in suffered from a drought that continues to this day. Soak up the full story here.

He willfully and recklessly destroyed records and refuses to keep statistics about potential voter fraud while championing a law that nonpartisan experts have shown not only disenfranchises minority voters, women, and students, but also targets only the rarest type, and least effective form of, voter fraud (in person voter impersonation).

Greg Abbott wants to be governor so he can take care of Greg Abbott, as well as a few campaign contributors of his who want to continue running their predatory lending businesses without any oversight, building their dangerous chemical storage facilities next to nursing homes and residential neighborhoods without disclosing what, exactly, is being stored, and pillaging our natural resources without regard for the safety of our citizens or water supply.

Dangerous, arrogant, and a craven hypocrite. Ladies and gentlemen, what are you doing to make sure this man does not become governor?

This is what happens when one party rules.  Again, nothing will change until they’re made to pay on election day. It’s blatantly obvious what they’re doing.  They’re plan is to continue making sure they win the election before the ballots are ever cast.

With news like this it’s no wonder many of the GOP statewide candidates are not agreeing to debate their Democratic opponents.

Apparently negotiating with himself, Abbott agrees to new debate.
Democrat challenges GOP’s Paxton to debate in AG race. Paxton has legal issues.

Houston contends his opponent hasn’t made a public appearance in months, ever since Paxton admitted to repeatedly soliciting investment clients over the last decade – a service for which he pocketed up to a 30 percent in commission – without being properly registered with the state as an investment adviser representative.

08.28.14

Judge Declares School Finance System Unconstitutional – Again!

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Education at 2:28 pm by wcnews

Read the ruling here.

This is a pretty good explanation of how we got here.

It’s been a continued attack on public education by the Texas GOP.

Read more about the history of Texas’ structural deficit, Understanding the budget and Texas’ structural deficit.

Statement from Wendy Davis:

Wendy Davis issued the following statement in response to the ruling by Judge John Dietz finding school funding inadequate:

“Today is a victory for our schools, for the future of our state and for the promise of opportunity that’s at the core of who we are as Texans. The reality is clear and indefensible: insiders like Greg Abbott haven’t been working for our schools; they’ve been actively working against them. Abbott has been in court for years, defending overcrowded classrooms, teacher layoffs and public-school closings, and today, Judge John Dietz ruled against him. This ruling underscores the crucial need to invest in education and reminds us of just how much our schools, teachers and students have had to sacrifice over the past three years just to get by.”

In 2011, Senator Davis led the fight against the $5.4 billion in education cuts, filibustering a budget that shortchanged Texas children. In contrast, Greg Abbott has been fighting more than 600 Texas school districts in court, defending the public education cuts.

Statement from Leticia Van de Putte:

Today, State District Judge John Dietz ruled that Texas’ system of funding neighborhood schools is unconstitutional.

Senator Leticia Van de Putte, Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor, issued the following statement:

“Today’s decision tells us what every Texas parent already knows: Dan Patrick’s education cuts are bad for Texas students. Texas’ system of funding neighborhood schools is broken. Opportunity in Texas should not be restricted by where you live and the irresponsible whims of a politician more focused on political scorecards than our student’s report cards.

“Every Texan knows that investment in the education of our children and Texas’ workforce is critical to a smart economy. Now is the time to lead, not to wait for another court to tell us to do our job. As Lt. Governor, I’ll put Texas first and lead the Senate to do right by our children – no excuses.”

� Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »

7ads6x98y