03.26.15

This Is What Happens When We Turn Government Over To Corporations

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans at 1:47 pm by wcnews

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This is a very interesting comment from GOP Texas House Speaker Joe Straus.  It’s related to the disastrous lack of oversight at the HHSC under Kyle Janek.

House Speaker Joe Straus is asking lawmakers to develop a comprehensive solution to the state’s contracting woes, in light of what he called a “troubling” new report on more such problems at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

Straus said the latest audit illustrates a “systemic problem across all of state government.” With more agencies relying on the private sector, he said, it appears those agencies “lack the resources or expertise to effectively negotiate and implement these contracts.”

“The policies and procedures for awarding these contracts are too often sidestepped, and oversight is too often incompetent or non-existent,” the Republican said in a statement, his most in-depth comments on the topic to date.

In other words we’ve turned our government services over to the corporations. That’s likely not what Straus meant.

And folks who were involved in doing that – like former GOP state Sen. Kyle Janek – don’t seem to think there needs to be oversight. You know, if we run our state like a business and let the free market take care it!

The reason those agencies don’t have the necessary resources and expertise is because the GOP Lege has been gutting agency budgets for at least a decade. Just ask Sid Miller.  The folks who pay for their campaigns don’t wont oversight, so we’re not getting oversight.

As has been said here many times, this is what happens when we elect people who believe the government is the problem and can’t do anything good for the citizenry.  They will do everything they can to prove it.

03.24.15

The Latest GOP Tax Cut Scheme In Texas

Posted in 84th Legislature, Bad Government Republicans, Taxes at 1:02 pm by wcnews

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This little nugget is tucked into SJR 1, the constitutional amendment for the Senate’s property tax cut bill.

and prohibiting the imposition or collection of a tax on the conveyance, including by sale, lease, or other transfer, of an interest in real property.

A constitutional amendment prohibiting a sales tax on real estate transactions.

Last week Ross Ramsey told us what was going to happen, Killing a Tax Without Saving Taxpayers a Dime.

Careful readers will find an Easter egg tucked in one of the tax measures approved by a Senate committee this week — a mostly unmentioned clause that would constitutionally ban taxes on real estate transactions.

Don’t count your savings: Texas doesn’t even have a tax on real estate transactions.

[…]

Texas is one of the 13 states without a tax on real estate transactions; a constitutional ban would prevent future lawmakers from imposing one without voter approval.

It would make your friendly neighborhood Realtor happy, however. And it is especially delicious for the Texas Association of Realtors, the trade association for real estate agents and a wealthy and generous donor to political campaigns. For this industry, any talk of taxing home and building sales, leases and other transactions is a cardinal threat.

Not a bad idea to get all the real estate agents on your side when you’re trying to pass a property tax swap scheme that will have little effect on most homeowners.

The reason this is interesting is because last week many in the Texas business community pushed back on the Senate’s tax plan, Business groups say tax plan needs to make state needs priority.

Major business groups pushed back Friday against a multi­billion-dollar package of tax cuts advancing in the Texas Senate, calling it inequitable and saying state needs should be funded before lawmakers consider tax relief.

The criticism highlights how, despite support for tax cuts among Republican legislative leaders, details are far from settled and are prompting dissension among lawmakers and businesses.

It also echoes concerns from some leading lawmakers that the emphasis on tax cuts could imperil efforts to address such issues, as education, transportation, state debt and pension programs.

And this week those in the real estate business in Texas pushed back on them.

Well-funded and vocal opposition to these measures show little regard for homeowners who are crippled under our current property tax system. Or for any business, especially small businesses, who are working within a tax system that stifles business expansion and economic opportunities.

Furthermore, in objecting to these tax relief measures the opposition boldly state lawmakers should protect infrastructure and special interests needs first: “If there is any money left over, it is appropriate to consider tax relief.”

While we support long-term infrastructure needs in Texas, we feel it is time to put home owners and business interests at the forefront of any public policy debate and not as a trickle down afterthought.

Didn’t see that coming.  Pretty soon, if we aren’t careful, all taxes will be constitutionally banned in Texas.  Which has been the plan all along.

03.10.15

They’re For Local Control As Long As They Control The Locals

Posted in 84th Legislature, Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Money In Politics at 10:12 am by wcnews

Nanny-State

It’s becoming clear that Texans don’t like the way the GOP is governing our state.  At the local level, where people live, they actually need a government that works for them.  And the GOP at the state level is reacting against that.

And the most interesting part is that those who are making the noise are local elected members of the GOP. Cue GOP Williamson County Judge Dan Gattis. Texas Cities Are Worried Republicans Pushed Tax Cuts Too Far.

Texas’s Williamson County hired hundreds of workers and ran up debt as it became home to two of the 10 fastest-growing U.S. cities. Now, state tax cuts threaten to crimp the revenue it needs to pay for the expansion.

“It scares the fool out of me,” said Dan Gattis, a judge who helps oversee the budget for the county, an area north of Austin where farms gave way to congested roads as the population almost doubled since 2000. “It takes so much money to run county government. We’ve got to have some way to pay the bills.”

[…]

City and county officials said the revenue is needed to make up for lack of money from the state, which ranks 48th in spending per resident, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Localities have borrowed to fill the gap. Of the 10 most-populous states, only New York has more local debt per resident, according to figures from the Texas Bond Review Board. The debt of Texas local governments swelled by 75 percent over the past decade, according to the state’s figures, as officials poured more money into public works.

Williamson County is among them. An influx increased its population by almost 90 percent since 2000 to 471,000. Two of its cities — Cedar Park and Georgetown — were among the 10 fastest growing in 2013, according to the Census Bureau.

Its payroll has swelled 40 percent since 2003 to about 1,500 employees. Jail bookings are up 50 percent. Even the county’s miniature train has seen its ridership increase by more than one third since 2007. In 2013, Williamson County voters approved a $315 million bond for roads and parks.

“The state is not appropriating the money,” said Gattis, the county judge.

With population growth comes the need for more infrastructure, etc.. to support that population. What this shows is that the Texas GOP is perfectly willing to accept all the property and sales taxes those people pay, but they have no desire to meet the needs of the people in this state.

Our state leaders over the last 15 – 20 years have neglected their responsibilities and have left cities and counties not choice but to fend for themselves.

Local governments were anticipating the intrusion from Texas officials. Governor Greg Abbott, a 57-year-old Republican who took office in January, has said cities have gone too far in passing local measures, including bans on plastic bags and cutting trees on private property. He said such developments were threatening to “California-ize” the state with unneeded regulations.

Bennett Sandlin, executive director of the Texas Municipal League, said cities should be left to manage their own money.

“Mayors rub elbows with citizens in grocery stores and churches every day,” he said. “They’re closer to the pulse of constituents than any other form of government. That’s the epitome of conservative government right there.”

It appears that using the tools available to them at the local level has made the GOP in The Lege mad, The HB 540 Nanny Bill makes cities ask permission of the state.

The HB 540 Nanny Bill requires home rule cities to ask for the Attorney General’s permission before passing a municipal ordinance. This bill was filed by Rep. Phil King in retaliation of the Denton vote to ban fracking.

The city of Alpine went on record against the GOP Nanny Bill.  Most, if not all, cities in Texas  agree and would rather not have to ask the state for permission before they pass a law.  And they think President Obama’s a tyrant?

The people of Texas need government to be on their side. As their needs go unmet by the state they will look for other ways to get their needs met. Corporate owned Republicans and, unfortunately, some Democrats will have to overreact with bills like HB 540 when their campaign donors wishes are reversed or not met at the local level.

They’re for local control as long as they control the locals.

03.05.15

GOP Wants To Change The Rules In The Middle Of The Game

Posted in 84th Legislature, Bad Government Republicans, Taxes at 11:38 am by wcnews

paul ryan

The GOP is in a bind, so they want to change the rules in the middle of the game.  This goes good with the temper tantrum they thew on Medicaid expansion earlier in the week.

Erica Grieder in the Texas Monthly uses way too many words to explain, in a nice way, that the Texas GOP is scheming to change the budget rules on debt and taxes.  The GOP wants to bust the spending cap, without having to pay, politically, for busting the spending cap.

Since former Gov. Rick Perry’s tax diversion schemes ares no longer politically feasible, the new guys have to find a new scheme. And the only thing the GOP has relied on while in power more than diversions is passing the buck to the voters.

[GOP state Sen. Jane] Nelson described the measures as “a no-brainer” and predicted they would have little trouble drawing support from a majority of the state’s voters.

She knows that constitutional amendments pass easy in those off year elections, when voter turnout is less than 10%.

The most interesting part is the leeway the wing nuts are giving their buddy Patrick on this.  Just imagine what the reaction would have been in Straus has proposed this.  BTW, he’s against this scheme.

House Speaker Joe Straus appears not to like the Senate proposals.

“For 36 years our state spending cap has helped enforce fiscal discipline, and we should be very cautious about any attempt to weaken it,” Straus, R-San Antonio, said in a statement.

Democrats should be against this as well.  They should make the GOP play by the same rules they used when they gutted education funding.  Of course,  it’s tempting to go along with a scheme where it looks like they’re willing to give on some things.  But unless the GOP is willing to give on expanding Medicaid and fully funding public education they need to steer clear of this.

03.04.15

Getting By On The Cheap Won’t Fix Public Education

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Education, Teachers at 4:50 pm by wcnews

teacher

Our current state leaders plans for public education aren’t very promising so far. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick put an insurance salesman in charge of public education. That shows important it is to him, Senate school agenda vexes teacher groups.

Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, chosen by Patrick to replace him as education chair this session, said the upper chamber wants to “unshackle” innovative, successful schools while holding those that are underperforming accountable.

Of the six bills highlighted Tuesday, Taylor will carry the three likely to encounter the most vehement opposition. Each has received Gov. Greg Abbott’s stamp of approval.

Senate Bill 6, filed Tuesday, would require every school in the state to be assigned an A-F letter grade. Under current law, school districts and campuses are rated simply as “met standard” or “improvement required.” Taylor also is sponsoring Senate Bill 14, the so-called “parent trigger” bill, which would reduce from five years to two the amount of time parents would have to wait before they may petition to close or convert a failing school to a charter school.

Finally, Taylor’s Senate Bill 895 would create a new statewide school district into which underperforming schools would be shifted. The new entity, called the “Opportunity School District,” would focus on turning around the failing campuses. Similar districts are in place in Tennessee and Louisiana.

Perfect, nothing like having Tennessee and Louisiana as our education model.  This is the same repackaged drivel the right wing been selling for decades.  All they’re for is making sure public education fails and the school system is turned over to the corporations.

Monty Exter, lobbyist for the Association for Texas Professional Educators, noted some of the bills discussed Tuesday mirrored the agenda of Texans for Education Reform, an Austin-based education advocacy group at odds with teacher groups like his.

“That brand of reform is all about privatization to one degree or another,” said Exter, who said parent triggers, opportunity school districts and A-F grading have encouraged the proliferation of privately run, publicly funded charter schools in other states. “Part of the narrative of the privatization movement is ‘our traditional schools are failing,’ when they are not, by and large.”

Clay Robison, spokesman for the Texas State Teachers Association, agreed: “The Taylor-Patrick agenda fails to meet the needs of 5 million public school students whose schools have been inadequately funded by the very legislators who are eager to declare schools a failure based on standardized test scores. Educators want legislators to demonstrate a genuine commitment to strengthening neighborhood public schools instead of handing them over to outsiders who have no direct stake in our students’ success.”

Of course what they should be focusing on, they’re not.  This is not news to anyone who is a teacher, is related to a teacher, or knows a teacher, Where Have All The Teachers Gone?

Several big states have seen alarming drops in enrollment at teacher training programs. The numbers are grim among some of the nation’s largest producers of new teachers: In California, enrollment is down 53 percent over the past five years. It’s down sharply in New York and Texas as well.

In North Carolina, enrollment is down nearly 20 percent in three years.

“The erosion is steady. That’s a steady downward line on a graph. And there’s no sign that it’s being turned around,” says Bill McDiarmid, the dean of the University of North Carolina School of Education.

Why have the numbers fallen so far, so fast?

McDiarmid points to the strengthening U.S. economy and the erosion of teaching’s image as a stable career. There’s a growing sense, he says, that K-12 teachers simply have less control over their professional lives in an increasingly bitter, politicized environment.

The list of potential headaches for new teachers is long, starting with the ongoing, ideological fisticuffs over the Common Core State Standards, high-stakes testing and efforts to link test results to teacher evaluations. Throw in the erosion of tenure protections and a variety of recession-induced budget cuts, and you’ve got the makings of a crisis.

The job also has a PR problem, McDiarmid says, with teachers too often turned into scapegoats by politicians, policymakers, foundations and the media.

“It tears me up sometimes to see the way in which people talk about teachers because they are giving blood, sweat and tears for their students every day in this country. There is a sense now that, ‘If I went into this job and it doesn’t pay a lot and it’s a lot of hard work, it may be that I’d lose it.’ And students are hearing this. And it deters them from entering the profession.”

It’s long past time we valued education, and key to that is making sure teachers know they’re valued.  Tax cuts, vouchers, and charter schools are not the answer. Getting by on the cheap is not the answer if we want a quality public education system in Texas.

03.03.15

Until Further Notice The Cruelty Will Continue

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Health Care at 9:41 am by wcnews

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First of all this is not news.  This is a temper tantrum plain and simple.  Does anyone in their right mind actually believe that 20 GOP state Senators “demanding” – stomping their feet – is really going to change anything? They even acknowledge this is all just for show.

Patrick complained about “overreaching federal mandates” and demanded the leeway to “manage our own Medicaid.”

He and all of the chamber’s Republicans sent President Barack Obama a letter demanding flexibility to revamp Texas’ version of Medicaid, a state-federal health insurance program for the poor, elderly and disabled.

Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, quickly acknowledged at a Capitol news conference that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services probably is not going to give the Texas Republicans what they want. [Emphasis added]

Uh..no. He knows they won’t get what they want.

These GOP politicians either don’t realize, or don’t care, that there are people suffering because they’re unable to get health care. People in need of health care don’t have time to play ideological games. But these folks blocking Medicaid expansion all have health so…

Here’s the response to the intransigence and cruelty of the GOP in Texas on this issue, 13 Children’s & Health Care Groups Issue Joint Statement on Lt. Governor’s Medicaid Proposal.

Low-income children, pregnant women, the elderly, and Texans with disabilities don’t need more hoops to jump through. Like all Texans, they need to be able to see a doctor when they’re sick, fill their prescriptions, and get other critical medical care.

Texas already has one of the most bare bones Medicaid programs in the country, denying coverage to nearly all low-income parents and workers despite the availability of federal funds intended to cover them.

The officials’ announcement decries increased enrollment in Texas Medicaid, despite the fact that enrollment growth has been almost entirely through coverage of children, dropping the uninsured rate of Texas children from 25% in 1997 to 13% of all kids in 2013.  The authors ask to be exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s “maintenance of effort” requirements, which are designed to protect children’s health care coverage.

The real health care crisis in our state is that so many Texans don’t have access to health insurance, putting them and their families at risk while forcing other Texans to cover unpaid hospital bills through higher premiums and property taxes.

Health Savings Accounts and other requirements have been included in the plans conservative states have negotiated with the federal government for extending coverage to low-income adult workers, but these requirements are ill-suited for the vulnerable Texans served by the state’s current bare bones Medicaid program.

The proposal to squeeze a few extra dollars out of low-income children, pregnant women, the elderly, and Texans with disabilities, announced the same week the Senate Finance Committee plans to consider tax cuts for some of the state’s largest businesses, represents the wrong priorities for Texas.

Rather than casting blame on the federal government, children, pregnant women, the elderly, and Texans with disabilities, we encourage our state leaders to listen to Texas doctors, Chambers of Commerce, county judges, and others who are calling for a plan to accept our share of new Medicaid funding for uninsured workers and parents.

Texans who agree that state leaders should develop a plan to close the Coverage Gap are invited to join business leaders, health care leaders, uninsured Texans, and others at Cover Texas Now’s Advocacy Day at the state Capitol on March 12. More information is available at texaswellandhealthy.org.

People are suffering and they decide to throw a political temper tantrum that they know won’t work. That’s cruel at best.

Kuff has more on the worthlessness of their actions, Republicans demand something for nothing on Medicaid.

03.02.15

Texas Is Being Neglected – No Matter What

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Taxes at 11:02 am by wcnews

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Here at EOW we’ve written about the GOP’s neglect of this state for quite some time.  The “tax cut not matter the cost” schemes the GOP has concocted over the years are the cause.  There’s been money to fix these things, they’ve decided that tax cuts are more important.  Via the Texas Tribune, Signs of Neglect, Wear and Tear in State Government.

It didn’t happen overnight. The deterioration in state parks, hit by a series of budget cuts and outright raids on its supposedly dedicated funding by lawmakers, has been a running plot line in the papers for several years.

Likewise, the deferred maintenance at state buildings, which could cost almost $1 billion assuming the work begins now, dates backs a generation in some cases.

But with a new crop of leaders taking the reins at state agencies, stories of neglect and bureaucratic woe are spilling out into the open more than ever — in testimony before the Legislature, interviews with the media and dry agency reports.

Newly elected Comptroller Glenn Hegar has seen it firsthand. In his earlies days on the job, he learned that a hole in the bathroom wall at the Lyndon B. Johnson building had to be patched with toilet paper. He found out a female employee had to get rabies shots not long ago after coming into contact with one of the numerous bats flying in the building. And he discovered the real purpose of a quilt on the wall of an employee’s office.

“I thought it was decoration, but, no, that’s to muffle the sound of the bathroom behind her wall, so you can’t hear people that are on the toilet,” Hegar told The Texas Tribune on Friday.

The maintenance problems are not confined to the comptroller’s office.

“We have leaking roofs that have caused damage to servers. We have elevators that don’t work,” Attorney General Ken Paxton, who recently took over the top state attorney job from Gov. Greg Abbott, testified recently. “I’ve been surprised at some of the issues that we’ve already had to deal with.”

Nowhere is the deferred maintenance more dramatic than at the Texas School for the Deaf. Its fire safety problems got so bad last year that the state fire marshal’s office threatened to shut down the historic South Austin school. To keep it open, the Texas Facilities Commission agreed to patrol parts of the campus 24 hours a day to ensure buildings don’t go up in flames — a sort of human fire alarm system to replace a mechanical one that doesn’t work in a wide swath of the campus.

“We didn’t see that as a necessity,” Peter Maass, a deputy at the Texas Facilities Commission, said of the fire checks. “[But] we said, okay, we’re not going to argue.”

Oh well, that’s a shame. But as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has told us, “tax cuts are coming no matter what“.

There’s at least one member of the Texas Senate who’s speaking out about what the real priorities of The Lege should be. It’s not tax cuts and the Senator in not a Democrat, Republican rains on tax-cut parade.

As state lawmakers clamber aboard the tax-cut bandwagon, one Republican is raining on the parade that has been so enthusiastically arranged by his party’s leaders.

Sen. Kevin Eltife points out repeatedly, publicly and with rhetorical flair that the state has a list of long-neglected problems whose solutions would mean more to Texans than even a couple of hundred more dollars in their pockets from tax relief.

His position puts him at odds with Republicans and some Democrats who are championing big tax reductions. They say there’s enough money in these relatively flush times to both meet state needs and cut taxes by billions of dollars.

[…]

The list of problems comes easily to him: troubled pension funds, infuriating road congestion, growing state debt, long-running litigation over public education funding, state buildings going without basic repairs and universities in need of facilities.

“I just can’t jump out there and support tax cuts — as politically popular as that would be — I cannot do it until I know for a fact we have solutions to state problems,” said Eltife, R-Tyler. “Most of my constituents want us to solve problems.”

Most, if not all Texans want that too.  And threats aside Eltife is sticking to his guns, and driving the wing nuts crazy.

Eltife said he doesn’t think about elections when he’s doing his work of the session, which possibly would make him unique among lawmakers.

“I don’t know why anybody would worry about elections right now in the middle of session when we are trying to solve the state’s problems,” Eltife said. “If this is the end of my political career, so be it. It’s not going to keep me from talking about the problems of the state.”

Most in The Lege are worried about what their funders want, those are their true constituents. So to them the next election is what the only thing the legislative session is about. They don’t want to be kicked out of the club.

Despite the good financial situation Texas is in, we can’t forget that the surplus we have was been built through neglect.  Taxes have been cut and much needed items have been neglected.  The bills are coming due and we have money to pay them.  Instead we’re going to give that money to the wealthy and big business who already have more then they need.

02.25.15

Doing Away With What They Believe Is Unnecessary

Posted in 84th Legislature, Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Taxes at 12:22 pm by wcnews

poorrich-simple-translation

It’s key for everyone to understand how we got to the budget situation were in today in Texas.

The money that was cut from the budget in 2011, and not replaced in 2013, is responsible for the surplus we now have that the GOP wants to give back to the wealthy and big business in tax cuts.  Both budget estimates turned out to be way off base.

That original deficit in 2011 was caused by the GOP Tax Swap Scheme of 2006.   Everyone knew, when it was passed, that it would create a structural deficit.

Teachers lost jobs, schools were de-funded, and many were forced to sacrifice so taxes on the wealthy and big business would not be raised.

Just think about that.

The money was never intended to be replaced.  The GOP used the ruse of a tax swap in 2006 and the budget crisis it created in 2011 to gut public education.  And since then, with the surplus it created, their main concern is to give more tax cuts to the wealthy and big business.

Kuff has the latest on the GOP tax cut Olympics that are going on in The Lege right now, We can always pay for tax cuts later.

The problem with the current tax cut schemes being discussed in The Lege is that there’s little relief being offered to those who pay the most, as a percentage of their income, in taxes.  Via QR.

Texas earns dubious distinction, 3rd worst state for taxes inflicted on average Americans

Current tax cut bidding war means nothing to most Texans

While the Senate and House are in a bidding war for the biggest headline number of tax cuts that most Texans will not feel, the online financial publication “Marketwatch” named Texas the third worst state for taxes inflicted on average Americans.

The analysis reports that the Lone Star State has the fifth highest effective tax rate on the state’s bottom 20% at 12.5% and the 8th lowest rate on the top 1% at an effective tax rate of 2.9%.

From the story, “…the state relies heavily on sales and excise taxes. These consumption taxes accounted for nearly 32% of the state’s revenue, the ninth highest nationwide in fiscal 2012. The state also doesn’t provide low-income residents with any tax credits, which help offset sales, excise and property taxes in other states.”

The story can be found here.

The budget schemes of the Texas GOP is not only about lowering taxes, it’s also about destroying government – doing away with what they believe is unnecessary.

02.24.15

State Legislators Are An Easy Buy For Big Business

Posted in 84th Legislature, Around The State, Bad Government Republicans at 11:58 am by wcnews

alec

Big business believes state legislators are easy.  That seems to be the moral to this NYT article, States Are Blocking Local Regulations, Often at Industry’s Behest.

Darren Hodges, a Tea Party Republican and councilman in the windy West Texas city of Fort Stockton, is a fierce defender of his town’s decision to ban plastic bags. It was a local solution to a local problem and one, he says, city officials had a “God-given right” to make.

But the power of Fort Stockton and other cities to govern themselves is under attack in the state capital, Austin. The new Republican governor, Greg Abbott, has warned that several cities are undermining the business-friendly “Texas model” with a patchwork of ill-conceived regulations. Conservative legislators, already angered by a ban on fracking that was enacted by popular vote in the town of Denton last fall, quickly followed up with a host of bills to curtail local power.

[…]

So-called pre-emption laws, passed in states across the country, have barred cities from regulating landlords, building municipal broadband systems and raising the minimum wage. In the last two years, eight Republican-dominated states, most recently Alabama and Oklahoma, have prevented cities from enacting paid sick leave for workers, and a new law in Arkansas forbids municipalities to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination. Already this year, bills introduced in six more states, including Michigan, Missouri and South Carolina, seek to do the same. At least five states have pre-empted local regulation of e-cigarettes. And in New Mexico, the restaurant industry supports a modest increase to the minimum wage only if the state stops cities from mandating higher minimums.

Often these efforts are driven by industry, which finds it easier to wield influence in 50 capitols than in thousands of city halls, said Mark Pertschuk, the director of Grassroots Change, which opposes the pre-emption of public health measures.

The strategy was pioneered by tobacco companies 30 years ago to override local smoking bans. It was perfected by the National Rifle Association, which has succeeded in preventing local gun regulations in almost every state.

More recently, the restaurant industry is leading the fight to block municipalities from increasing the minimum wage or enacting paid sick leave ordinances in more than a dozen states, including Florida, Louisiana and Oklahoma.
Continue reading the main story

“Businesses are operating in an already challenging regulatory environment,” said Scott DeFife, the head of government affairs for the National Restaurant Association. “The state legislature is the best place to determine wage and hour law. This is not the kind of policy that should be determined jurisdiction by jurisdiction.”

This year, a combination of big money in state politics and a large number of first-time state legislators presents an opportunity for industries interested in getting favorable laws on the books, Mr. Pertschuk said. Increasingly, he said, disparate industries are banding together to back the same laws, through either the business-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, known as ALEC, or shared lobbyists. “There is going to be a feeding frenzy all year long in the state legislatures,” he said. [Emphasis added]

It’s cheaper and easier for them to buy state legislators than it is to buy city council members in every city. And it’s obvious that the GOP never cared about local control, it was just a catch phrase that business lobbies like the Chamber of Commerce and ALEC made up.

And in Texas the GOP controlled state government is planning to meddle as much as they can to take away local control, Cities, state start fighting over who has local control.

While cities and counties always devote energy at the Legislature to warding off what they deem as meddling, the challenge this time appears different to many.

“There are some items that might not have been on the agenda before,” said Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas. “With the strength of the movement conservatives, my concern is that we might be taking away some local control authority from our communities.”

A new slate of statewide leaders — including Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — spelled uncertainty from the get-go for Texas municipalities.

But Abbott, in a speech before his inauguration, hammered away at cities for “unchecked overregulation” and argued that they’re causing Texas to be “California-ized.” He pointed specifically to shopping bag ordinances — such as the one Dallas just implemented — and Denton’s fracking ban.

Patrick’s push to effectively reduce growth in the amount of property tax revenue cities can collect has local budget-writers concerned. Supporters say that effort will provide Texans with long overdue property tax relief.

Some lawmakers are echoing the state leaders, even while trying to be diplomatic in addressing the cities they represent.

The Texas GOP only likes local control if the local entity does what they and their donors want.

02.17.15

When They Show You Who They Are, Believe Them

Posted in Around The Nation, Bad Government Republicans, Social Security at 10:35 am by wcnews

4-15-2011

The right wing in America, which now controls the Republican Party, has always wanted to destroy Social Security.  They believe it is a waste of money and turns people into moochers.

No matter that it has been the most successful government program ever created in the United States.  It has kept millions of elderly out of poverty.  And it has grown to include assistance for the disabled and survivor benefits. Helping to support those who cannot support themselves.

The GOP wants to start a fake crisis To Dismantle Social Security.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) issued a stark warning to supporters: Republicans are willing to create a crisis pitting “America’s seniors against America’s disabled” in order to gut Social Security.

“We’ve known for years that Social Security Disability Insurance is set to run low in 2016, and most people assumed that another bipartisan reallocation was coming,” Warren wrote in an email to supporters on Wednesday evening. “But now, thanks to the Republican ideological war on our most important national safety net, disabled Americans could suddenly face a 20% cut in their Social Security checks next year.”

House Republicans quietly passed a rule change last month that would block Congress from being able to make routine tax revenue transfers between the Social Security retirement and disability funds, commonly referred to as reallocation, unless the program’s overall solvency is improved.

Of course there’s a simple fix for Social Security that will make it solvent far into the future, if not forever. Dems Brandish New Counterproposal In Social Security Fight: Tax The Rich.

The definitive Democratic counterproposal in the fledgling fight over Social Security is starting to emerge, and it has a familiar ring in the era of income inequality politics: tax the rich.

More specifically, Democrats are proposing to raise or eliminate the cap on Social Security taxes. Those taxes are currently collected up to $118,500 of a person’s income, and any income above that is Social Security tax-free. The liberal Center for American Progress said in a new report last week that the program had lost $1.1 trillion over the last 30 years because of it.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced last week that he would propose eliminating the cap for income above $250,000. His office estimated that that would keep Social Security solvent until 2060; the program is currently projected to start running out of money in 2033.

“If Republicans are serious about extending the solvency of Social Security beyond 2033,” Sanders said, “I hope they will join me in scrapping the cap that allows multi-millionaires to pay a much smaller percentage of their income into Social Security than the middle class.”

In essence Social Security hasn’t gotten a raise in 30 years. Think of your household budget. If you were making the same money today, as you did in 1983, your household would be heading toward insolvency too.  It’s also extremely heartening to see the Democrats pushing hard on this.

This burned Reagan when he tried to do it, and the wing nuts are at it again.

When Ronald Reagan came to town back in 1981, he ran into an unexpected media buzzsaw named Spencer Rich, who was a colleague of mine at The Washington Post. A fellow Post editor dubbed Spencer Rich “the Ferret” because Spencer was a relentless digger of facts who repeatedly drove the Reagan White House nuts. His stories revealed insider details of what programs the new president intended to launch or old programs he planned to destroy. Spencer wasn’t really interested in the political horse race, but he understood the substance of government’s many parts and he did care about how government functioned. As it happens, so do ordinary citizens.

One of Spencer’s front-page exclusives revealed the Gipper’s plan to whack Social Security Disability Insurance. Republicans, he discovered, planned to denounce the liberal program as a scandal of fraud and waste. A fire storm of controversy erupted after his story appeared. The White House first denied it. Then the White House confirmed the story but said the facts were wrong. On the third or fourth day, the White House announced the program was snuffed.

This is what makes a free press so valuable to democracy—that is, if the reporters are truly free. I yearn to see a reporter with the courage to call out liars.

The GOP will always try to pull there budget gimmicks by making the poor and the voiceless pay, never will they ask those with more then they need to sacrifice anything.

When they show you who they are, believe them.

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