Another bad idea from TxDOT for stimulus money

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Road Issues, Transportation at 1:40 pm by wcnews

Via the HChron, $700 million eyed for toll projects. That’s more than one fourth of the $2.6 billion for transportation that Texas is slated to receive going to tolls.

The Texas Department of Transportation has set aside more than $700 million in economic stimulus funds for toll road projects across the state, sparking criticism and questions about whether the pay-to-drive roads are an appropriate use of the federal dollars.

The toll roads — including the Grand Parkway in Harris County — are among 21 major projects up for a vote at next week’s meeting of the Texas Transportation Commission in Austin. The commission had planned to vote on the list this week but delayed its consideration a week after at least one state legislator complained the money was being spent without enough input.

The delay has given opponents an opportunity to organize a lobbying effort aimed at persuading state leaders to withhold stimulus money from toll road projects.

“It’s a total rip-off,” said Terri Hall, director of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom, a nonprofit opposed to toll roads. “That’s not how the money is supposed to be used.”

TxDOT leaders and transportation planners defend the projects, saying all of them, including the toll roads, are important to their regions and offer tangible economic and mobility benefits.

“I think it’s unfortunate that the discussion about these funds has eclipsed the broader discussion about the state’s transportation needs,” TxDOT spokesman Chris Lippincott said.

The discussion should be on reducing gridlock now, said Rep. Jim Dunnam, D-Waco, whose criticism led the commission to postpone its vote. Toll roads should be built later with state money, not onetime federal stimulus funds, he said.

“The Legislature continues to vote for toll moratoriums,” he said, “and TxDOT keeps ignoring us.”

Again, wasn’t Deirdre Delisi supposed to help turn around TxDOT’s image? Oh well. This is a bad idea.  Here’s an idea, if stimulus money is going to be used on toll raods, maybe they shouldn’t be toll roads any longer.


Gov. Perry, eyeing ’10 primary, sticks it to unemployed

Posted in 2010 Primary, Around The Nation, Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Commentary, Had Enough Yet?, Recession, Williamson County at 4:57 pm by dembones

UPDATE 28-Feb 1:11pm CST: DKos is on this. Click over and participate in the comments now! Charles Kuffner has it too.

A local man who lost his job in 2008 was quoted in yesterday’s NYT calling out Gov. Rick Perry for his refusal to take federal stimulus money to extend unemployment benefits.

“It just seems unreasonable,” Mr. Kight said, “that when people probably need the help the most, that because of partisan activity, or partisan feelings, against the current new administration, that Perry is willing to sacrifice the lives of so many Texans that have been out of work in the last year.”

It’s a tragic story from one end to the other. Henry Kight lives in Williamson County and has worked in the tech industry for decades. Gov. Perry’s stance is purely political. He wants to paint his likely primary opponent, Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison as being pro-bailout. There’s a problem, however. Sen. Hutchison voted at every opportunity against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. In order to appear even more anti-Obama than Hutchison, Gov. Perry is refusing to take some of the money that the Act would direct to Texas, including this federal unemployment benefit.

Economists say that unemployment benefits are the most effective stimulus available, since it is spent immediately and directly in communities where workers are displaced. This dampens ripples through the economy caused by those layoffs.

At this point in the recession, most folks in Williamson County know someone who has recently lost their job. Gov. Perry’s grandstanding turns their misery into a political football. Besides being shameful, it will worsen the effects of the recession on all of us.

Perry and the stimulus – it’s all or nothing at all

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Right Wing Lies, The Budget, The Economy, The Lege, Uncategorized at 4:54 pm by wcnews

While Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the other Southern “wing-nut” governors – boy is that redundant – have been running around saying they’re going to deny certain stimulus funds, that may not be possible, Stimulus Isn’t A La Carte Menu.

Senator Charles Schumer released the following letter Tuesday urging the Obama administration to notify governors that they must certify acceptance of stimulus funding in full or not at all, rather than selectively approving and rejecting the law’s various components.

It’s all or nothing at all. But Rep. Jim Dunnam (D-Waco) and many more in the legislature have known from the beginning that Perry would likely some kind of ideological shenanigans.  They are preparing to counteract it, Lawmakers may swipe Rick Perry’s veto pen. Kuff has great info and links to the debate that’s ongoing in the legislature over whether or not to take certain portions of the stimulus money.  In particular the part that  would be the most likely to be turned down – unemployment insurance (UI).

I can understand the reluctance to taking one-time money for potentially ongoing expenditures. But sometimes these are things you should have been doing anyway, and will at worst take on a relatively small expense while getting a worthwhile return on it.


Funny, you could say the exact same thing about those big property tax cuts we enacted last session when we had some extra cash lying around. I don’t recall there being a whole lot of angst from certain quarters about how we were going to pay for it going forward – there may have been something about the beauty of the free market, or the Laffer curve, or magic pixie dust, I’m not sure. You want to talk about something that’s tough to get rid of, try repealing an irresponsible tax cut. In contrast, this would cost about $150 million per biennium – likely less in the future when the economy improves and more people are working again – which is about 0.2% of the total state revenue we have for this period. It would also help a lot of people who could really use it, and would be quite economically stimulative, as the recipients would be spending all that money on frivolities like food and housing. Seems like an easy decision to make, if you ask me.

The ironic part about Perry and some of his GOP cohorts that want to turn down the UI money is that it is one of the most stimulative aspects of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), Washington Throws the Economy a Rope.

Extending unemployment insurance and expanding food stamps are the most effective ways to prime the economy’s pump.

When a former Texas GOP chair is saying we need this, then things must not be looking good, Unemployment Fund situation dire.

At yesterday’s hearing of the Texas Senate Nominations Committee, Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Tom Pauken didn’t mince words about the dire situation facing the state’s unemployment rate — and the fund the state relies upon to pay unemployment benefits. The Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund will be flat broke sometime next fall if current unemployment trends continue. Pauken was forthright, but not alarmist: he has reasonable-sounding plans in mind for borrowing money to keep the system running. But his remarks certainly put in perspective the on-going argument over whether the state should take $555 million in federal economic stimulus money. As you know, Gov. Rick Perry is suspicious of the “strings” attached to the federal dollars — which include using a more timely data that would help unemployed workers get assistance faster. According to the Austin American-Statesman, Texas “disregards the most recent quarter and uses the previous four quarters.” Some people believe this particularly affects low-wage workers who go in and out of the workforce.

As if on cue, Jobless Angry at Possibility of No Benefits.

[Henry] Kight and other unemployed workers said they were incensed to learn they were living in one of a handful of states — many of them among the poorest in the nation — that might not provide the expanded benefits.

“It just seems unreasonable,” Mr. Kight said, “that when people probably need the help the most, that because of partisan activity, or partisan feelings, against the current new administration, that Perry is willing to sacrifice the lives of so many Texans that have been out of work in the last year.”

There’s more on why UI is so stimulative.

The crucial role played by unemployment benefits in limiting declines in consumer spending is underscored by recent academic research showing that the amount a family spends on food falls by seven percent, on average, when the head of a household becomes unemployed but would decline by 22 percent in the absence of unemployment benefits. Other research confirms that the unemployment insurance system has been an extremely effective mechanism for stabilizing the economy during a downturn. Both unemployment insurance and the tax system are “automatic stabilizers” — they help to reduce the severity of a recession by automatically supporting spending during a downturn. Recent academic research has shown that, dollar for dollar, the UI system is eight times as effective as the entire tax system in mitigating the impact of a recession.

But beyond how stimulative this is for our economy there’s the moral aspect of this. Don Baylor from the CPPP gets the last word.

“When people lose jobs through no fault of their own, their families shouldn’t have to go hungry, and their communities
shouldn’t have to suffer economically. Unemployment insurance benefits help keep families and communities above water in tough economic times. Unemployment insurance is more important than ever in Texas: our unemployment rate shot up from 4.4 percent to six percent in the last six months of 2008, meaning more than 700,000 Texans are now unemployed. To put that in perspective, that’s more people than live in Corpus Christi, Lubbock, Waco, and Nacogdoches, combined. At the same time, Texas ranks 50th among states in the share of jobless state residents receiving unemployment insurance benefits,” CPPP Senior Policy Analyst Don Baylor, Jr., said.

“Texas families and communities are working hard to stay afloat, and Congress made resources available to the Texas Legislature to strengthen our unemployment insurance systems. The Legislature needs to take advantage of available funds so Texas can come out stronger on the other side of this recession,” Baylor added.

It’s just the right thing to do in these tough economic times.  Hopefully the stimulus will be “all or nothing at all”, mandated from the federal government, and Perry and the other governor’s can use that for their political cover – they made me do it.  It doesn’t really matter what excuse they use, what matters is people get the help they need and our economy gets rolling again.  After all that’s what we all want.

Carter Hyprocirsy, Krusee in the news

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, Commentary, District 31, Transportation, Uncategorized at 1:20 pm by wcnews

If you haven’t been to John Carter Watch yet you are missing out.  Today’s post is really good, Having it both ways. Basically Carter is now crowing about all the money that’s coming into TX-31 from the stimulus bill that passed Congress, which he not only voted against, but demonized.

In other words, if Carter and the GOP had their way, we wouldn’t be getting any money — we wouldn’t be “keeping up and improving our public housing,” nor would we be adding to our job base.

But now that the Dems have passed the bill, and the Obama administration has acted swiftly to implement it, and to distribute the funds, John Carter is more than happy to talk about all the good stuff that this money is going to do for us.

There’s something not quite right about that. No?

Why yes, there’s something really hypocritical about that.  Click here to see a full list of HUD dollars for all the cities in TX-31.

Also former state Rep. Mike Krusee, it seems the NYT isn’t aware he’s a former state Rep. (can’t say that enough), turned up in the New York Time earlier this week, Blue-ribbon panel endorses road pricing, shift from gas tax.

The controversial road-pricing scheme would become the dominant funding mechanism for road construction and maintenance by 2020, with drivers being charged an average of 2 cents per mile, according to the report released by the 15-member panel created by Congress in the last highway bill authorization.

The National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission says the shift is necessary because the current funding mechanism — federal fuel taxes — has failed to raise the necessary revenue for needed roadwork and runs counterintuitive to national environmental and energy goals.

“The more successful U.S. transportation policy is at increasing fuel efficiency and reducing both foreign oil dependency and carbon emissions, the faster its primary funding source, the gas tax, becomes obsolete,” said [former] Texas state Rep. Mike Krusee, a commission member.  (Emphasis added).


“Conceptually, it makes good sense,” House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) said Monday, referring to taxing drivers per mile traveled. “I expect, if the technology existed in 1956, the founders [of the Interstate Highway System] would have used that instead of the gas tax.”

While the mileage tax may be feasible in the future, at this point it is not fully evolved. The collection and tracking mechanisms are rather cumbersome and buggy. Nothing can supplant the gas tax for ease of use and collection yet, not even tolls.

Political news from around the state

Posted in 2010 Primary, Around The State, Commentary, Election 2010, Uncategorized, US Senate Race at 10:30 am by wcnews

The group  Public Policy Polling (PPP) did a series of polls around the state recently on the Governor’s race, the US Senate race, and President Obama’s approval.   We’ll discuss them here in that order.  There’s an old political campaign saying to “run like your 20 points down”, and that may actually be the reality for Gov. Rick Perry. If the poll on the upcoming GOP primary is  any indication, Hutchison with large lead over Perry.

If the Republican primary were held today, Rick Perry’s tenure as Governor of Texas would be coming to an end, the newest survey from Public Policy Polling finds.

Perry trails Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison 56-31 among likely GOP primary voters.

While the poll says that Hutchison is viewed favorably by 75% of the likely GOP primary voters, Perry will be doing all he can to lower that number for the next year, Perry’s camp digs for dirt on Kay Bailey Hutchison at Dallas City Hall.

“We’re interested, as most Texans would be, in how Senator Bailout’s husband’s bond business has benefited from her job in D.C.,” said Perry campaign spokesman Mark Miner, using a nickname the campaign has applied to the senator for her support of the federal government’s initial financial-industry assistance plan.

Ray Hutchison said that the Perry campaign has filed such open records requests all across the state and that their fishing expedition was “stupid.” He said that he has not benefited from his wife’s position as senator.

“I don’t know what she does. I don’t communicate with her staff,” he said.

He will also employ plenty of pandering to the far right.

[Gov. Perry] appointed a Burleson woman to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles whose criminal justice experience doesn’t seem to extend far beyond a stint on the North Texas town’s powerful Morality Mafia.

PPP also polled both Hutchison and Perry against rumored Democratic candidate Tom Schieffer, and no surprising the virtually unknown Schieffer didn’t fare well, Hutchison, Perry both best Schieffer. That’s not a knock on Schieffer, just reality right now, other than those who follow politics closely in Texas no one knows who he is. No matter it appears Schieffer appears set to announce his candidacy on Monday.

In an interview in Washington, Schieffer, 61, said, “I will make a decision on Sunday after I meet with my family.” He first expressed interest publicly in the post two weeks ago in an interview with the Star-Telegram.

“I have continued to check with people I know all over the state, and I have received an incredible response,” said Schieffer, shaking his head. “I have been amazed at the reaction.”

In other rumored Democratic candidate news Kuff ,in the tease for his upcoming interview with State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, tells us that the Voter ID debate [is] set for the Senate next week.

I did an interview with State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte this evening, and in the course of our conversation, which I’ll be publishing on Monday, she said that there was a hearing set for voter ID legislation – presumably SB362 – in the Senate on March 10.

PPP also polled potential candidates in for the US Senate in Texas should Hutchison resign and found the Texas Senate [race] could be competitive.

Polling on the Senate vacancy that would occur if Kay Bailey Hutchison becomes Governor of Texas is kind of a crap shoot at this point, since it’s not clear what high profile Republican candidates might make the race. Nevertheless PPP’s early snapshot of how some possible match ups might play out gives an indication that it could be the most competitive Senate contest Texas has seen in a number of years.

PPP also polled President Obama’s approval in Texas and found it about even, and mostly along party lines.

46% of Texans disapprove of Barack Obama’s job performance so far, with 45% approving.

The views toward him are extremely polarized along party lines, with 90% of Democrats but only 8% of Republicans expressing support. Independents are nearly split down the middle, with 42% giving him their approval and 46% dissenting.


In Texas women, African Americans, Hispanics, and voters under 30 all give the President pretty strong approval while men, whites, and voters over 65 give him poor marks.

While these poll numbers are not great for Democrats, I thought the number for Hutchison (54%),  against a virtually unknown Democrat, was pretty low, and that was with 75% GOP approval. Who knows, after a year through the meat grinder, how those numbers will come out on the other side?  While Royal Masset thinks her 1993 race shows she will next year, via QR, “The best evidence about how Kay will do in the 2010 Republican Primary for Governor is provided by her victory in the 1993 Special Election for US Senate”. That was 16 years ago.  It’s been a long time since, and Hutchison hasn’t had to run in a competitive race since then.  We’ll surely find out if she’s still got it, or if she’s lost a step.


Candidate filings in Leander

Posted in Good Stuff, Leander, Local Elections, Uncategorized, Williamson County at 4:54 pm by wcnews

The Hill Country News has all the candidate filing news from Leander. Wake files for Leander Place 2.

Carl Wake has filed for Leander City Council Place 2 as of Wednesday afternoon. Wake will run against incumbent Kirsten Lynch. The vacated Place 1 race so far will be between former council members Rob Lederman and Andrea Navarrette. Vic Villarreal will run for mayor against incumbent John Cowman. Incumbents Michell Cantwell (Place 4) and Dave Siebold (Place 6) have filed for reelection but are unopposed. The filing deadline is at 5 p.m. on March 9. The general and special election will be May 9. Early voting begins April 27.

This from earlier in the month on Vic Villarreal filing for mayor.

Vic Villarreal on Monday filed to run for the office of Leander mayor in the upcoming May general election. Villarreal, a Place 1 council member since 2001, has served as Mayor Pro-Tem and on several boards as a city representative.

“My main focus is to create fresh momentum, draw new attention and fresh interest towards our city,” Villarreal said Monday. “As mayor I will work hard to bring fresh business prospects while protecting our already established record of success.”

Find out more about Villarreal at www.vicforleander.com.

Hutchison offers nothing but more of the same

Posted in 2010 Primary, Around The State, Commentary, Health Care, Right Wing Lies, Taxes, Uncategorized at 4:25 pm by wcnews

Think Progress has two video clips up of Texas GOP Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison on CNBC today. In the first one she’s spouting tired, long ago debunked, wing-nut talking points that tax cuts create more revenue. In the second one she states her support to “postpone our nations answers to health care“:

But while the crisis is real for Texans, Bailey Hutchison, who as a Senator receives government subsidized health insurance, is concerned about “more government spending” on health care. Of course the point of real health reform is to eliminate wasteful expenditures, improve quality, and reduce overall health care spending (now at an unsustainable 16% of the GDP), not increase it. Unfortunately, by postponing reform, health care spending will only increase. By 2017, health care will consume 20 percent of the GDP.

This should once and for all show any Democrat, or Texan, that desires change from our state’s present course, who may have thought that Hutchison may be a better governor than Perry on the most important issues, is just fooling themselves. Hutchison believes that more of the same is just what we need. She’s as out of touch with reality as any Republican, and has nothing but new to offer.  While she may win the primary a capable Democratic oppponent should be able to run effectively against an uninspiring opponent spouting decades old GOP bromides that have been proven not to work.  Sounds like the McCain playbook from last year.

The state of the economy in Williamson County

Posted in Cedar Park, Commentary, Hutto, Round Rock, Taxes, Taylor, Uncategorized, Williamson County at 11:13 am by wcnews

While Texas and Williamson County have not been hit as hard an many other places around our country, it appears some of those issues are starting to “trickle down”.  Several issues in Hutto were chronicled late last year. Growth slows in suburbs.

Few Texas towns grew faster than Hutto in the past decade.

A small farming community of 1,250 in 2000, the population has swelled to more than 17,000 as young families moved there in droves in search of affordable housing.

Nearly 950 new houses were built in the flat, treeless fields from mid-2005 to mid-2006.

Home builders started construction on just under 500 new houses in the 12 months ending in September, and city leaders expect that number to fall further in the coming year.

Today, the narrow country lanes once clogged with heavy construction trucks and obscured with clouds of dust are largely clear.

Few new houses were halted in progress, but a few subdivisions were abruptly abandoned, leaving paved cul-de-sacs lined with streetlights but no houses.

City officials originally projected that Hutto would collect more than $1.5 million in development and permitting fees in the 2007-08 budget year. Instead, the city collected $782,409 , and city leaders expect that amount to drop to just below $767,000 this year.


Financial troubles among national retailers are compounding the problem, and many are likely to postpone entering these markets as they weigh their own economic health and the fact that residential populations aren’t growing as quickly as once projected.

Blaming the economy and scarce financing, Atlantic Coast Developers said it will almost certainly postpone beginning construction on its 466-acre Crossings of Carmel Creek project at Texas 130 and U.S. 79, which it had announced would start next year.

When fully built, the Crossings of Carmel Creek would include 6 million square feet of retail and office space, 2,100 residential units and 900 hotel rooms.

The two from The Hutto News as well, Economy delays Carmel Creek a major development, and Hutto’s financial outlook mixed.

Round Rock’s outlook is not as rosy as it used to be, Hope shines through in tough times.

Despite what economists are calling the worst recession in three decades, Round Rock’s assistant finance director, Cheryl Delaney, says the city is financially strong and still on-target to meet its FY 2009 budget.

“We have some of the lowest tax and utility rates in the area. We have excellent tax reserves. The pay-as-you-go capital program has saved our taxpayers approximately 10 cents on the tax rate,” Delaney told elected officials and city employees at their winter retreat Feb. 18. “And the thing we’re most excited about is our recent general obligation bond rating upgrade from AA to AA plus. I think that was significant that in this in environment we were able to have this upgrade.”


Round Rock’s FY 2009 budget shows a certified taxable property value of $8.1 billion.

Currently beginning her work on the city’s 2010 budget, Delaney is estimating a 3 percent decrease in taxable property value for the upcoming fiscal year – down to $7.8 billion – including new property added to the tax roles.

Sales tax also represents a significant portion of the city’s general fund revenue in the FY 2009 budget at $49 million, with Dell Inc. making up $19.5 million and all other sales tax revenue the remaining $29. 5 million.

For the upcoming fiscal year, Delaney is estimating a 7 percent year-to-year decline in the computer giant’s sales tax revenue and a 3 percent decline in all other sales tax revenue.

As a result, Delaney is currently anticipating a $3 million revenue shortfall in the city’s 2010 budget – assuming no new programs are added.

The TDP  is reporting that Taylor Tax revenue slips.

Monthly sales tax revenue for the City of Taylor has fallen sharply since last year’s figures.

Property tax money also continues to flow in at a slower-than-expected pace, City Manager Jim Dunaway said, and city funds sitting in a bank are gaining an abysmal 0.7 percent interest rate.

The most recent sales tax revenue collected, $235,160, generated during December, typically the strongest month of sales because of the Christmas season, dropped about 40 percent from last year’s figures.

This graphic from the AAS recently on area sales taxes shows a mixed bag.


Austin and Round Rock both saw large drops in sales tax revenue in December, but some other Central Texas cities had healthy gains.


The cities that had increases included Kyle and Leander, which have seen new retail openings in recent months.

Now much of the budget woes of a particular city or county has to do with what their projections were for property values and sales tax revenue for the future. It’s doubtful many, if any, predicted slight increases, much less them going down significantly. But that’s the point of the stimulus is to keep the burden from falling even more on the middle class and the poor throughout our country. By the way have you seen how much it costs for a speeding ticket nowadays, it outrageous, not to mention those toll road fines, Woman receives toll road bill for more than $11,500.


Only gambling can save us

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Gambling, Taxes, The Budget, The Lege, Transportation, Uncategorized at 12:42 pm by wcnews

This is an interesting take on the issues facing Texas.

Texas is getting bigger. Our state consistently ranks near the top of the fastest growing states. Our exploding population has placed enormous strains on our infrastructure, and threatens the state’s long term ability to continue to foster a growing economy and create new jobs. Transportation funding has failed to meet the demands of a growing population, leading to gridlock in many parts of the state. Additionally, dramatically rising tuition costs at Texas colleges and universities have placed a huge financial burden on many Texas families, and for some, have placed the dream of higher education out of reach. The Texas of tomorrow will be largely defined by how well we educate our children and whether we put in place a modern and adequate transportation infrastructure.

Sounds like something a bunch of liberals would write. A fair assessment of some of the problems facing our state – no mention of health care for instance.  Of course our transportation system has been defunded and neglected since 1994, and tuition was deregulated in 2003.  That’s the cause of these two particular problems, so what do we do about it? The solution, of course, is to bring casino gambling to Texas.

The Texas Gaming Association  has a plan to address our state’s challenges. Our proposal will invest in Texas by dedicating $1 billion for college scholarships and $1 billion in new revenue for transportation projects each year.

Now there’s nothing against gambling, per se, but  don’t believe the hype.  If this does become legal in Texas the experience will probably be similar to what we’ve had with the lottery.  An initial surge and then a drop as the novelty wears off.  Not to mention the cronyism and corruption that will come along with setting up the Texas Casino Commission or whatever it will be called.

For background on the bills that have been filed and some of the recent reporting read these two posts at Off The Kuff, (here and here).  There’s also an interesting read in today’s Star-Telegram about this issue, Baptists, racetracks oppose measure to allow casinos in Texas.

Although the legislation includes the racing industry’s long-sought goal of installing slot machines at horse and dog tracks, track officials oppose the bill because it would tax slot machines’ revenue at more than twice the rate of casinos’.

“As long as racetracks are treated equally with casinos, we wouldn’t have any trouble with it,” said Drew Shubeck, president and general manager of Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie, one of the state’s three class-one racetracks. “We wouldn’t support something [in which] we felt we were being discriminated.”

Rob Kohler, a consultant for the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, served notice that the powerful denomination is also gearing up against the bill.

“It’s not smart public policy for the state to get into,” Kohler said. “We’re going to make sure they don’t.”

We’ll see about that.  If it’s too good to be true it usually is. While casino’s would likely bring in some money for the state, it’s doubtful they would ever produce the money the TGA is forecasting.  If this passes it’s likely because our leaders would rather do this than outright raise taxes.

Sex Ed in Texas, misinformation and lack of information

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Education, Public Schools, Uncategorized at 11:04 am by wcnews

The Texas Freedom Network yesterday released a report on the state of Sex Education in Texas public schools.

[The report] conclusively demonstrates that Texas is failing families and students when it comes to sexuality education. Less than 4 percent of Texas school districts give young people any information about responsible pregnancy and disease prevention. Even worse, the information students do receive about sexuality and health is often grossly distorted or simply wrong.

To the effect that there is any it’s bad. In essence it’s hard to tell what’s worse, the fact that most don’t get any at all, or that what they do get  is really bad.  The first paragraph from the Author’s Preface of the report, Just Say Don’t Know [.pdf], shows just how bad it is.

At the beginning of every semester in one of my undergraduate health classes at Texas State University, I ask my students, “How many of you feel you received quality sexuality education from either your parents or school?” Typically, I
see two or three hands out of 50 students. When I ask these 18- and 19-year-old students, the vast majority of whom are products of Texas public schools, why they didn’t learn this important information, their explanations have become a familiar litany: “We skipped the sex ed chapter in high school.” “Our teacher just told us ‘don’t do it.’” “We had speakers come to school and tell us condoms don’t work.” I thought I was no longer capable of being surprised by the ignorance among our students. Then last year a sincere male student asked aloud, “What is my risk for cervical cancer?” Clearly, ignorance surrounding sexuality and health is a problem among young people today.

And there’s this from the Executive Summary [.pdf]:

Texas has long been held up as the poster child for abstinence-only sexuality education. In fact, Texas consistently leads the nation by a wide margin in federal abstinence education dollars – more than $18 million in 2007 alone. What has not been known until this study, however, is what public schools are actually teaching students about sexuality education in their classrooms. And the news is not good.

There much more at the web site www.justsaydontknow.org, including videos and more.

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