The members of the Texas Democratic Party Executive Committee held an emergency meeting this evening and approved their Delegate Selection Plan for 2012. The famous “Texas Two-Step” hybrid primary/caucus process for selecting our delegates to the Democratic National Convention will be set aside this year, and temporarily replaced with a two-tiered convention (caucus).
The first series of conventions will be held April 21, 2012, at a location and time to be announced by each county political party. All voters who affiliate with a political party, generally by signing an Oath, are eligible to attend the county conventions. The convention delegates will debate and adopt a slate of delegates who will represent the county at the State Democratic Convention, to be held June 8-9, in Houston. According to the Delegate Selection Plan, Williamson County will be able to send 124 delegates and 124 alternates to the state convention. (Two ex-officio delegates will join the delegation, making the total voting strength of Williamson County at the State Convention 126.)
Up to 7,021 delegates will be credentialed at the State Democratic Convention. They will adopt a slate of 288 delegates and 22 alternates who will attend the Democratic National Convention, to be held September 3-6, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Senatorial District 5, which includes Williamson County, will meet in a separate caucus at the state convention to select six national delegates. These six delegates will be apportioned according to the aggregation of the poll of Presidential preference taken at the district’s 10 county conventions. The Delegate Selection Plan calls for a Presidential candidate to meet a 15% minimum in order to receive delegates.
The move today by the state Democratic party is a response to a San Antonio federal court order issued yesterday. In that order, a three-judge panel provided for state political parties to make adjustments to their rules so that state conventions can be held in June, independent of results of primaries whose results won’t be available in time.
The court yesterday also issued maps to be used for the 2012 elections in State Representative, State Senatorial and United States Congressional districts. Those maps hew closely to the lines drawn by the 82nd Legislature, and which have thus far been unable to earn pre-clearance from the United States Department of Justice, as required under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Rather than submit the maps to the Department of Justice, the State of Texas asked a D. C. circuit court for pre-clearance. A trial was held in January and February, but the court has not issued a ruling. A ruling has become increasingly unlikely in time to allow the state parties to hold their conventions in June, necessitating tonight’s action.
The size of venue required for state conventions limits the locations where they can be held, and makes the cost of moving unrealistic. Therefore, the San Antonio court has allowed the state parties to draw up plans that will allow them to select their national delegations without the results of a Presidential Primary to determine the Presidential preferences of their delegates. Instead, state parties will use a poll of convention attendees to determine the apportionment.
Credentials for attendance to the Democratic state convention will be issued to delegates elected at county and senatorial district conventions to be held April 21, 2012. Counties entirely contained within a single Senatorial District will convene a single County Convention. Counties containing parts of more than one Senatorial district (i.e., Atascosa, Bexar, Brazoria, Collin, Dallas, Denton, Fort Bend, Galveston, Guadalupe, Harris, Hays, Hidalgo, Montgomery, Tarrant, Taylor, and Travis) will have a a Senatorial Convention for each portion of a Senatorial District within the county. Sometimes all the Senatorial District conventions within a county are held at one location, or they may be held separately.
Voters who want to attend a party’s County or Senatorial District conventions must be registered to vote in the County and reside in the District. They must affiliate with one political party, either by signing a candidate petition for a place on that party’s primary ballot, or providing an Oath of Affiliation to the County Chair.
The time and location of the County and Senatorial District conventions will be announced by each county party’s executive committee in the coming weeks. Notices will be posted in public spaces and in local media. Committees will be appointed to prepare for the convention, processing Credentials, accepting proposed Resolutions and Rules changes, and handling other logistical details. Funding for the county/SD conventions is provided entirely by the County political parties and their donors.
On April 21, when voters arrive at their convention, they will prove that they are registered to vote and reside within the county/district. They will sign an Oath of Affiliation that declares their party preference for 2012. A record of those oaths is provided to the county’s chief elections officer, where it will be recorded in the voter roll for any subsequent primary or primary runoff elections. A person who attempts to affiliate with more than one party, or who votes in a party’s primary or runoff election to which they are unaffiliated, will have violated Texas Election Code, and could be subject to prosecution under state law.
Once signed in, the county/SD convention attendee becomes a full voting delegate, and joins other delegates from their voting precinct. Last summer, Williamson County approved a new precinct map whose lines will correspond with the court-ordered maps. This plan divides Williamson into 88 voting precincts. Because this map has not been pre-cleared by Justice, it may be necessary for another court order to make it (or some other map) temporarily effective; however, in lieu of that, the county parties may have to revert to the 2010 map which divided Williamson into 102 precincts. Some of those lines may not match up with State House districts; however, that won’t impact the county convention. The precinct map will be used to divide the county convention attendees into groups. Those groups will have an opportunity to select one of their own to join the state delegation.
Voters would have received their voter registration cards in January, had an enacted map obtained pre-clearance in time. The cards sent to voters in January 2010 have expired, but the county retains your active voter registration. Those who were legally registered last year, remain registered so long as their residence or other legal information has not changed. Citizens 18 years or older who are eligible to vote may newly register or update their existing registration information until March 22, 2012.
In addition to other court actions, the fate of the newly enacted SB14 (VoterID Law) remains uncertain. Rather than take the new law to Justice for VRA pre-clearance, the State of Texas asked a circuit court in New Orleans to grant pre-clearance. When judges requested it, the State provided a list of 650,000 registered voters who would become ineligible to vote under SB14 because they lack the specific photo identification cards prescribed by the new law. The Circuit Court then asked the State to break down the list by race to determine whether the law has the effect of discriminating against a racial minority, providing a January deadline for response. When the State of Texas failed to respond before the deadline, the circuit court extended the deadline an additional 60 days.
If the State responds to the court’s request, pre-clearance would be granted if the data show that the effect of SB14 is not discriminatory. Because SB14 remains in legal limbo, existing Texas Election Code will determine how voters will identify themselves at the county and senatorial district conventions.
But because voters will presumably lack a valid voter registration card, they will be required to present some other form of identification to prove their voter registration status and residency. Those forms of identification include Texas Drivers License, utility bills, student IDs, Veterans Benefits cards, etc.
The percentage of Texans with health insurance will increase to 91 percent – up from 74 percent today – after the national health care law takes effect in 2014, the state’s Medicaid director told lawmakers Monday.
The law, however, faces uncertainty pending a U.S. Supreme Court review over constitutional challenges, including a provision in the act mandating people to buy health insurance. Those who refuse will have to pay a penalty.
An estimated 2.3 million Texans will still lack health insurance after the Affordable Care Act takes effect, partially because undocumented immigrants are not eligible for coverage, State Medicaid Director Billy Millwee told a joint meeting of the House Public Health and Insurance committees.
The public hearing started with about 90 minutes of projections from economist Thomas Saving of Texas A&M University, who told lawmakers that the reforms would eat up the federal budget, forcing Washington to push more Medicaid costs to the states.
“The state’s share of Medicaid was about 34 percent in 2010, and it’s going to be almost getting up near 40 percent,” Saving said. “It’s going to increase significantly.”
Some Democrats questioned Saving’s findings. They asked whether he had factored in any cost savings for additional preventative care. Saving said preventative care never pays.
“The fact that you’ve gone in, had a mammogram and know that you don’t have a problem, they don’t value that,” Saving said. “Preventative stuff does not reduce costs for the third-party payer. Almost every study would say that.”
Lawmakers also heard how full implementation of the law could affect the state’s large uninsured population. Billy Millwee of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission said that under the federal law, the amount of uninsured Texans would drop from 26 percent to 9 percent.
“Some of those will be undocumented. The individual mandate or the availability of the subsidy just won’t be there,” Millwee said. “You’ll have some people who just won’t comply. Because the penalty, in a cost benefit analysis, it may still be cheaper to not get insurance then it is to get insurance.”
Which is why the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is such a boon for Texas. After all, this week the state Medicaid director revealed that the ACA will dramatically reduce the ranks of the uninsured there to 9 percent beginning in 2014. It’s just a shame Governor Rick Perry and his Republican allies are doing everything possible to make sure that never happens.
BlueBloggin is appalled that Newt Gingrich has gotten away with condemning the US President for not making excuses for the childish vandalism of Holy Books. Gingrich and other GOP candidates are pandering to the most extreme Dominionist element of people who call themselves Christian. GOP Presidential Candidate nut case, encourages Holy War
The long delay in determining the new redistricted parameters affects not only Democrats and Republicans but also the other political parties, who can’t begin to collect petition signatures until after the primary elections. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has that and more third-party news in this update.
At TexasKaos, Libby Shaw warns us that if you “…angry about the rising cost of gas? If you are, whatever you do, don’t ask a Republican politician to tell you the truth about why prices are increasing. For the Party of right wing mullahs has psycho based issues with women’s rights. The pre-historic neanderthal cave dwellers will just lie to you and blame the rising prices on Obama.” Read the rest: GOP Scamming People on High Gas Prices.
Worried about the possibility of no longer being Texas A&M employees and having diminished health benefits, more than 700 of Aggieland’s rank-and-file workers packed Rudder Theatre on Friday in an emotional meeting to voice concerns about the plan to outsource much of facilities services and dining services.
One was Raul Rodriguez, a landscape employee who was born at St. Joseph, graduated from Bryan High School and has been an Aggie football fan since childhood. He’s never been to a game at Kyle Field because he spends game days picking up trash at the stadium for extra money to support his wife and three children.
“I wish I could have come here as a student, but I couldn’t, and I’m proud to be here as a worker,” the 26-year-old said. “Texas A&M University lives in my heart, and when I come to work, I give it 100 percent.”
He said he wants to remain a Texas A&M employee.
A&M System Chancellor John Sharp said this week that, in an effort to save money and generate revenue, he plans to put out requests for proposal for private companies to take over campus landscaping, custodial services, building maintenance and dining services. It’s unclear how many jobs would be outsourced, but some 700 employees are in facilities services, and another 200 in dining services.
After the meeting, Sharp announced that the A&M System had issued a request for proposals for a private entity to operate dining services, which includes catering and 34 locations that serve the university’s 50,000 students. Future RFPs will include those for custodial services, building maintenance and landscaping services.
A top Texas A&M administrator, Rodney McClendon, addressed the standing-room only crowd and read a statement from Sharp, who was in Galveston to attend a Chancellor’s Century Council meeting.
“Our employees, their jobs, salaries and benefits will be the key consideration in evaluation of any proposal from the private sector,” Sharp said in the statement. “This evaluation will be led by a multidisciplinary team as part of a careful and deliberate process over the next several months.”
McClendon, the university’s vice president for administration, said that layoffs were not part of the discussion, and that, typically, the companies absorb the entire workforce.
Sharp says he believes that if the jobs are outsourced, the private companies who take over would hire the Texas A&M employees already doing the work, but he also says there are no guarantees.
Sharp says, “There are no guarantees now. This is an at-will state…I would be pretty nervous if I was working for an organization that was losing a million bucks a year…Why would they (the private companies) go through the expense of going to Dallas to bring a bunch of employees down here that don’t know squat about Texas A&M? They’re going to use these employees here and the RFP clearly says you will be judged by that as one of those factors, that we want our existing employees used.”
What Sharp is saying to these employees is that you will no longer work for Texas A&M, you will work for the XYZ corporation of Dallas. You will have a job but at a lower salary, and fewer benefits, in particular health care and a retirement plan. To see what this will look like check out this EOW post from August of last year, which described what happened when outsourcing came to Arizona State University.
BEATRIZ ROMAN: The lady, she comes and she says, oh. I have bad news.
That lady was an ASU administrator.
ROMAN: Everybody lose their job. Everybody’s working only two more weeks.
The university laid off its entire custodial staff. All 191 were offered jobs with private companies that would take over ASU’s cleaning duties.
ROMAN: After this, I’m depressed. I’m very depressed.
Roman is a widow and the mother of a teenager. But she turned down the offer. In fact, only three people took the job. Custodians say the pay and vacation days were less. Health insurance premiums were more expensive. Plus, there were no state retirement benefits, and if Roman accepted the work, she’d lose her university severance package. That pays $1,100 bucks a month, the same as her previous salary after taxes. With a pet parakeet chirping behind her, I ask what happens when the money runs out in November. [Emphasis added]
ROMAN: Good question. Good question. I need find job. Soon.
This is a bad idea and the only party likely to benefit will be the corporation that lands the contract. It’s an attempt to “save” money by screwing workers, and it’s shameful. Remember John Sharp is the one responsible for 2006 tax swap scheme in Texas that has created our state’s structural budget deficit. Enough said.
The redistricting mess created by the Texas GOP’s radical power-grab, which is causing the primary to be postponed, over and over again, could turn out to be a blessing in disguise. The candidate filing deadline for the 2012 Primary is still to be determined. And each day the landscape keeps looking better.
The Texas economy has improved over the last year, but those is power in Texas are not looking to reverse the extreme austerity budget passed last year. And those who had to sacrifice last session, (no no the wealthy!), public schools, teachers, school children and the least among us, will be asked to sacrifice again.
This week, Gov. Rick Perry and the House’s chief budget writer all but dismissed pleas by education advocates for an immediate special session to roll back some of the education cuts ordered last year.
With any changes to the current budget seemingly ruled out, experts say the key questions for next time boil down to: How low can you go? Will there be cuts on top of cuts, something not seen in Texas since the 1950s? And can local taxpayers in school districts, cities and counties be expected to keep picking up burdens the state sloughs off?
Perry, tea party-backed Republicans in the Legislature and conservative activists say putting state finances into an ever-tightening vise helps the state’s economy. They note that Texas leads all states in job creation and that people continue to flock to the state, which is picking up an additional four U.S. House seats as a result.
But Democrats and other critics say the policy of continual cuts courts disaster. They note that Texas began the past decade as one of the most frugal states. Since then, critics say GOP leaders’ policy of rejecting higher taxes and even cutting some taxes has allowed problems to fester. One example they use: Public health systems along the Texas-Mexico border are fraying, weakening defenses against outbreaks of tuberculosis and cholera.
With the cuts in education, they warn, there’s a growing prospect that the state’s workforce increasingly will consist of stunted, poorly educated young people.
“How we pay for schools is the state budget,” said Eva DeLuna Castro, a former analyst in the comptroller’s office who tracks fiscal matters for the progressive Center for Public Policy Priorities. “If we refuse every two years to tackle that, it’s not a good budget. It’s an abdication.”
But former House Appropriations Committee Chairman Talmadge Heflin, R-Houston, said keeping state government on restricted rations hasn’t set the state back because it fosters innovation.
“There’s still room to economize, to squeeze, to reduce the footprint,” said Heflin, a senior analyst with the free-market advocacy group the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “People like something about being in Texas or they wouldn’t keep coming. We’re not starving our education system to where we’re going to have an uneducated workforce.”
Former Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff, a Republican who has denounced the school cuts, retorted: “Of course, Talmadge is one of those who would like to be able to drown the government in a bathtub.”[Emphasis added]
Ratliff said lawmakers since the 2009 session have slashed nearly $12 billion from state support of public schools, after considering enrollment growth and assuming a rate of 2 percent inflation per year.
“They’ve just got their head in the sand,” he said. “Hundreds of school districts statewide are going to their voters trying to get authority to raise property taxes so they can survive.”
The Perry gravy train is back on the track. UnitedHealthCare is a client of … Mike Toomey. What a remarkable coincidence.
And as far as campaign ethics violations are concerned, it looks like billionaires would much rather ask for forgiveness, and likely pay a pittance of a fine, then even think about obeying the law, Simmons PAC Treasurer Concedes Ethics Violation. More from TPJ.
“We can’t stop Simmons from polluting the political landscape with lawful campaign contributions, but even billionaires must be held accountable to democratic law,” said TPJ Director Craig McDonald. “If Simmons’ money passed through an illegal conduit, the 18 lawmakers who accepted it should return it or—better yet—give it to a deserving charity.
“I think people across the state are beginning to have buyer’s remorse about what happened in 2010,” said [Texas Democratic Party chairman Boyd] Richie. “When their children are in crowded classrooms, when their favorite teacher has been lost.”
Buyer’s remorse is right. And nothing will change if we don’t replace the people that are responsible. It’s not possible to be somebody with nobody. There’s still time.
“We’re still spending approximately $10,000 per student in Texas,” he claimed.
Actually, Texas spent $9,446 per student in 2010-11, according to new state education rankings from the National Education Association (NEA). And, NEA estimated, that amount plummeted to $8,908 per student (a decrease of $538) during the current 2011-12 school year, which absorbed the initial impact of $5.4 billion in education cuts approved by Perry and the legislative majority last spring.
These figures are based on average daily attendance (ADA), the standard by which school districts receive state aid. The national average for ADA expenditures for 2010-11 was $11,305. Texas ranked 41st among the states then and is probably even lower now, because while Texas’ average was dropping, the national average was rising to $11,463 for 2011-12. Texas is now more than $2,500 per student below the national average in ADA spending.
If you calculate the per student expenditures on enrollment, Texas fares even more poorly. On that basis, Texas spent $8,751 per student in 2010-11, ranking 42nd. The national average was $10,770. And, according to NEA, Texas’ per enrollee expenditure dropped to $8,265 (a $486 decrease) in 2011-12. The national average, meanwhile, rose to $10,976.
Guess what, folks? Those expenditures, either way you calculate them, are going to drop even more for 2012-13, unless the governor and the legislative majority heed TSTA’s call to stop the bleeding now. There is more than $7 billion of taxpayers’ money sitting in the bank in the Rainy Day Fund, doing nobody any good. It is time for the governor to call the Legislature into special session and spend $2.5 billion of that amount to restore the budget cuts for 2012-13. The economy is improving, and the fund will continue to replenish itself, leaving enough money for other state emergencies.
Perry, who hints at another reelection race in 2014 or even another presidential campaign in 2016, apparently feels the need to rehabilitate his political reputation following his recent, embarrassing presidential stumble-thon. He should start by repairing some of the damage he has inflicted on our schools.
If Perry’s presidential run taught Texans anything, hopefully it’s that Gov. Perry likes to play “fast and loose” with facts, and hopes the media won’t hold him to account. Let’s hope that’s finally changing. Kuff has more.
Remember, that’s with $7.3 billion currently in the Rainy Day Fund, and more likely to come in as the economy improves. This is what they do. You want something different, you need a different Legislature.
By the way, Perry’s claim that we spend $10,000 per student is a flat-outlie. Perry’s not the only one who’s been lying about how much we spend on public education. They may be proud of what they’ve done, but that doesn’t mean they want you to think too much about it.
Texas has added 440,000 payroll jobs since December 2009, which John Heleman, chief revenue estimator for Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, identified as the recession’s low point during a House Appropriations Committee hearing Tuesday.
Sales tax revenue for the first five months of the state’s fiscal year is up 11 percent over the same period last year, he said.
“It looks like the Texas consumer is back. They are buying,” Heleman said of the growth in revenue from the sales tax, the state’s single largest revenue source outside of the federal government.
Oil production tax revenue has increased 47 percent over the same period last year, Heleman said. The state ended the fiscal year last fall with a $1.6 billion surplus, and he estimated the state’s rainy day fund to contain $7.3 billion by the end of the current budget cycle.
The Legislature cut public school funding by $2 billion over what existing law would have provided this year, and another $2 billion will be cut next year.
With the economic recovery accelerating, Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, wondered why lawmakers can’t restore funding to public schools.
“Right now, we have a lot of schools that are hurting,” the committee vice chairman said. “We need to consider how we are going to address the needs of our schoolchildren.”
After the hearing, committee member Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, said it’s become apparent that last year’s public school education cuts will become permanent.
In addition to a $4 billion cut in basic school funding, Villarreal said another $2 billion deferral payment to the next fiscal year means public education will start the next legislative session in a $6 billion hole.
Public education funding will play a big role in the elections later this year, he said.
“The only way to change the priorities in the Capitol is to change out members of the Legislature,” Villarreal said.
Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, said there’s no appetite among his GOP House colleagues for a special legislative session to avoid more public education funding cuts. Perry could call one after the next regular session to deal with school finance litigation now in the courts, Pitts said.
“Until we get some direction from the courts, we’re flying blind,” he said.
But in the interview a few hours later, Perry declared: “No special session. We’re not going to have a special session.”
“I appreciate all of the legislators’ input, but I would be stunned if there is an outcry from the people of this state or, for that matter, a majority of the members of the Legislature that want to come back in here and have a special session when I don’t think we need one,” Perry said.
And the Texas Democratic Party is holding Larry Gonzales Responsible for School Closure, Teacher Lay-Offs in His District. Read full press release below in extended entry.
Cutting out field trips, charging students to ride the bus and hiking up the price to play sports are just a few of the things the Hutto school district will talk to parents about this week in an effort to shave $1.2 million off next year’s budget.
The district is hosting two public meetings to help prioritize a four-page list of potential cuts and money-making solutions. The meetings are Monday and Wednesday at the Hutto High School Performing Arts Center, located at 101 FM 685.
Community input will help the school district gauge what people want to save and what the district can live without. The additional cuts follow $4.5 million in previous cuts made for the current school year, which resulted in roughly 70 layoffs, the closure of Veteran’s Hill Elementary and many other cost-saving measures.
There will be another public meeting tomorrow at the Performing Arts Center at 6:30pm. And here’s a link to a survey if you can’t make tomorrow’s hearing.
The bus fee alone, $200/per child, per year, is quite a bit of money. More than likely much less than what the tax increase, that was voted down in November, would have cost. Nothing like reality to focus people’s attention on the next election. Hopefully the families in Hutto that are hardest hit by these new fees will remember who brought this about.
The Texas Progressive Alliance will never be able to say the word “surging” again with a straight face as it brings you this week’s roundup.
Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones resigned her position to run in the GOP primary for SD25 after finally coming to the realization that her argument that we can’t really know where the capital of Texas is located was completely lame. Off the Kuff provides the commentary.
Revenue from the gas tax often has been diverted to pay for non-transportation budget items.
“The reality is we’re going to have to get some guts,” Darby said. “We’re going to have to develop a backbone. We’re going to have to have your help. Everybody in this room has a stake in our future.”
Darby floated the idea of an additional $50 on current vehicle registration fees. That alone, he said, would raise an additional $1 billion in revenue and cover the cost of diversions and debt.
It’s amazing, he still doesn’t get it. Asking to raise a fee doesn’t take guts, and it won’t fix the problem. We don’t need a billion, we need billions! The GOP is so afraid of taxes, even when it’s the obvious and best fix. Darby should get some real guts and start advocating to raise the gas tax. It’s the best solution to our transportation funding problem.