02.15.12

We must “Re-Fund” public education in Texas

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Education, Election 2012, Public Schools, Take Action, The Budget at 12:39 pm by wcnews

Democratic candidate for US Senate Paul Sadler is taking it to GOP frontrunner David Dewhurst.  Highlighting Dewhurst’s effort to de-fund public education, Sadler calls it the “Dewhurst Disaster”, Sadler to Dewhurst: ‘work or resign’.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst should “get to work or resign,” says Paul Sadler, former House Public Education chairman, who believes state lawmakers need to come back to the state Capitol to work on school funding in a special legislative session.

Dewhurst is running for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate; Sadler is running for the Democratic nomination.

Only Gov. Rick Perry can call a special legislative session, but Dewhurst should be supporting the call, Sadler says.

“Massive cuts to education this year, followed by systematic cuts planned for next year, will create a “Double Robin Hood” scenario for many public schools,” Sadler said. “I call this ‘The Dewhurst Disaster.

Paul Sadler has a simple message for David Dewhurst: “Get to work, or resign.”

“During the last legislative session, it is now obvious that both Governor Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. Dewhurst were interested only in their selfish desire to run for higher office and were too afraid of the right-wing extremists to tackle the hard issues of our state created by their mismanagement,” Sadler said. “I can certainly understand why both of these men would try to leave the State before Texans learn of the disaster they have created.”

[...]

“In the past few weeks Texans from across the political spectrum have demanded that the Governor call a Special Session of the Legislature to solve our state’s school funding crisis,” said Sadler. “From conservative Republican State Senator Steve Ogden to the Texas State Teachers’ Association, responsible Texans are demanding that our leaders step up, forget about politics, and show some real leadership for our schools and our school children. It’s time David Dewhurst woke up and paid attention.”

Sadler contends that Perry and Dewhurst are more interested in their personal ambition than the children of Texas.

“These are the facts: With almost $8 billion in the Rainy Day Fund, they intentionally cut over $5 billion from our children’s education, resulting in larger class sizes, and teachers being fired,” Sadler said.” For the first time in the history of this state our leaders failed to fund enrollment growth – that means they ignored the educational needs of new children entering our schools.”

Sadler said the “Perry-Dewhurst budget will result in a ‘Double Robin Hood’ scenario for school districts like Andrews ISD, Alamo Heights ISD, Frisco ISD, Plano ISD, Highland Park ISD, Lewisville ISD, Northwest ISD and hundreds of school districts across the state.

“The Dewhurst disaster will just get worse next year when school districts that already send money to Austin thanks to Robin Hood receive massive cuts. It’s a double Robin Hood scenario. Every Texan, whether you have children in public school or not, needs to know the disastrous course these policies will have on our children. The education of our children is too important to be ignored while Perry and Dewhurst try to run for higher office,” Sadler said. [Emphasis added]

If you live in a school district that’s suffering under the GOP’s attack on public education in Texas, Perry, Dewhurst, Straus, and their GOP cohorts are to blame.  They believe that’s why they were all elected in 2010, to cut the budget and protect the Rainy Day Fund.  The only way to get across to them that they were wrong is to throw them out in 2012.

Elected members of the Texas GOP are responsible for what is happening to public education in Texas.  And Perry and Dewhurst, in particular, put their political aspirations ahead of everything else.  Sadler, as do teachers in Texas, realize this can be fixed right now.  Gov. Perry has the power to call the legislature back.  That he won’t shows that he care little about what’s happening to public education in Texas.

In order to re-fund public education in Texas we must replace many who were elected to office in 2012.  They must be replaced with people who believe a quality public education is vital to Texas’ future.  Of course the Save Texas Schools rally is coming up next month.  It would be great to see Sadler there to speak about public education in Texas.  STS also has a petition which states:

We call on all state leaders – both officeholders and candidates – to pledge their support for the following emergency actions in the next legislative session:

  • Make outstanding public education a top priority for Texas.
  • Restore all school funding cuts made by the 2011 legislature and provide sufficient resources for our growing student population.
  • Revise school finance laws to be fair to all students.
  • Fix the $5 billion annual structural deficit to avoid further cuts to education.
  • Reevaluate and limit high-stakes standardized testing.

We can no longer afford leaders who fail to recognize the critical importance of a strong public education system to our economy and our future. We’re watching, we’ll remember and we vote.

You can add your name here.

Elections have consequences.  If we want quality public education in Texas the same people cannot be sent back to Austin in 2013.  We need new leadership so public education can be re-funded.

02.14.12

Anderson inquiry getting statewide attention

Posted in Around The State, Criminal Justice, Williamson County at 10:27 am by wcnews

From the DMN, Editorial: Inquiry needed in Morton case.

Michael Morton committed no crime the morning of Aug. 13, 1986, which started out as innocently as any other: out the door at 5:30 a.m. for his job as a grocery store manager. The public knows that today.

What we don’t know is whether a crime was committed in putting Morton in prison for nearly 25 years in the beating death of his wife that summer morning. While Morton’s innocence is unquestioned, former District Attorney Ken Anderson must account for disturbing questions about how he orchestrated a case he could sell to a jury and why he withheld exculpatory evidence before trial and during years of appeals.

For that reason we welcome a state judge’s decision in Williamson County last week recommending a rare court of inquiry into Anderson’s behavior.

[...]

The Morton fiasco has become a case study in the compounding nature of inept or corrupt police work. Morton became a patsy for a high-profile crime, and while he remained locked up in prison, the killer apparently struck again. Suddenly, a second family was dealing with a tragedy that might not have happened had investigators picked up on obvious clues and taken a dangerous predator off the streets.

And the AAS, Possibility of misconduct enough to merit full Anderson inquiry.

The inquiry needs to go forward for a couple of reasons at least. If Anderson did nothing wrong he has nothing to worry about and the inquiry will make if official, if not he’s in trouble. But it must be done to show all prosecutors across the state if they play fast-and-loose with the evidence there are consequences. Their job is to bring justice, not quick and “successful” prosecutions. And if they forget that then everyone, and our justice system, gets hurt.

02.13.12

News from around the state

Posted in Around The State, Commentary at 3:04 pm by wcnews

Peggy Fikac tells us about new book from Cal Jillson, Lone Star tarnished?

Southern Methodist University political scientist Cal Jillson is the latest to fill out the tale of Texas in a book coming out this week, Lone Star Tarnished: A Critical Look at Texas Politics and Public Policy.

“There is a Texas miracle if you think of it very narrowly in terms of very steady population growth at well above the national average, and job growth above the national average – thinking of job growth as increase in number of jobs,” Jillson said. “Because if you look at income, or if you look at educational performance, access to health care, poverty and a whole range of social policy measures, Texas continues to lag the nation by dramatic margins.” [Emphasis added]

As lawmakers looking ahead to another fiscally challenging legislative session in 2013 – they must deal with billions of dollars in pushed-off Medicaid costs and are facing another school finance lawsuit, for starters – Jillson’s book offers a look at income and issues including education plus an examination of Texas’ tax system.

“It shows how we got to where we are and identifies a set of revenue streams we’ve consciously forgone that we could tap into,” such a broader sales tax base, he said.

Texas tax collections were 72 percent of the national average in 2009, while the Southern average was 87 percent, he said.

“We don’t have to terrify people by saying, let’s go to the national average. We can say, let’s go to the Southern average,” he said. “We’re getting up with Alabama.”

Harvey Kronberg has the latest redistricting and AG Abbott’s miscalculation, San Antonio court says it means business on redistricting.

Federal judges are not typically a group to be toyed with and last week, the three-judge redistricting panel in San Antonio sharply expressed its annoyance with the parties participating in this legal mess.

Remember, because of our state’s history of discriminating against minorities, the Voting Rights Act requires the Texas get permission from either the Department of Justice or a DC Court before implementing any election changes.

Every other southern state but Texas pursued both alternatives to approval. However, apparently thinking that Texas would get better treatment from a largely Republican DC court, Attorney General Abbott never submitted our maps to the DOJ.

Since then, it has been litigation hell. The all-Republican appointed three-judge panel in DC has been openly skeptical of the state’s arguments, going so far as to rule in rejecting a summary judgment, that there were indications of discrimination in both the intent and outcome of legislative and Congressional map drawing.

Kuff has more on the next step in the redistricting process, Interim map hearing tomorrow.

Grits has a great post on all the reporting regarding the recent ruling in the Morton case, Court of inquiry to proceed investigating prosecutor misconduct in Williamson County. As well as this link that explains what a court of inquiry is and it’s history in Texas, What is a Court of Inquiry? This part seems meant for this case.

So why request a court of inquiry instead of going to the police or taking a more typical route through the legal system? The reasons vary from case to case, but individuals could seek courts of inquiry because they believe there is corruption or potential conflicts of interest in the legal or law enforcement institutions they would otherwise turn to. Courts of inquiry can also review evidence that would not be admitted to other courts, such as hearsay. [Emphasis added]

Wayne Slater posted over the weekend on the Collapse of the Perry Money Machine. Oops. The most interesting point is that his fundraising had already cratered before the “Oops” moment. But is flat lined after that.

There is going to be another Save Texas Schools this year, Save Texas Schools. Mark March 24th on your calendar.

One year ago, over 13,000 people gathered in Austin to speak out against budget cuts to public education. It was the largest capitol rally in modern Texas history! However, our legislators chose not to listen. Now, we need to come back before the primary elections to let them know, “We’re watching, We Remember and We VOTE!” It’s important that every candidate know that education is an issue that they CAN’T IGNORE!

Make plans now to join us in an even larger rally. Say NO to underfunding our schools! Say NO to overcrowded classrooms and overworked teachers! Say NO to millions spent on an out-of-control testing system! Say YES to educating our children for the future!

The STS March begins at 11 am at 12th and Trinity. Rally begins at noon on the south steps of the Capitol.

Questions? Contact us at info@savetxschools.org.

TPA Blog Round Up (February 13, 2012)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary at 10:00 am by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance is still waiting for Greg Abbott to ask for its opinion about interim maps as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff ran the numbers for the interim maps that were proposed by AG Greg Abbott.

While we may have plenty of jobs in Texas, but many don’t pay very well. That’s lead to income inequality in Texas. WCNews at Eye On Williamson make clear that Economic inequality in Texas needs to be addressed.

Sex Ed 101 by Louie Gohmert featured lectures on both caribou and human sexuality last week. Read on, if you dare, at Brains and Eggs, but have some anti-nausea medication close by just in case.

At TexasKaos, Libby Shaw reports that the mountain of vitrol known as Andrew Breitbart lost it at CPAC this weekend . Quelle shock! Read about it here: Esteemed Conservative Leader Loses It at CPAC.

Neil at Texas Liberal used a well-done Coca-Cola display at local store to ask folks to show some Valentine’s Day love for our fellow working people.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders why Republicans hate women so very, very much.

02.10.12

Judge rules Ken Anderson will face court of inquiry in Morton case

Posted in Criminal Justice, Williamson County at 5:51 pm by wcnews

Via YNN, Judge orders court of inquiry to determine Anderson misconduct.

District Judge Harle has honored the court of inquiry request to determine if Judge Ken Anderson committed prosecutorial misconduct in the 1987 murder trial of Christine Morton.

Harle signed a probable cause affidavit Friday that will now go to the chambers of the Texas Supreme Court. Chief Texas Supreme Court Justice Wallace Jefferson, who will then make a ruling on whether or not the court of inquiry should move forward.

More from the AAS, Anderson should face inquiry, judge rules.

Former Williamson County district attorney Ken Anderson should face a court of inquiry to examine allegations that he violated state law by withholding evidence that could have spared Michael Morton from a wrongful conviction and almost 25 years in prison, a district judge ruled today.

After a 75-minute hearing, District Judge Sid Harle ruled that there is probable cause to believe that Anderson may have broken state law in the Morton case.

Noting that the allegations to date have been spurred by Morton’s lawyers, Harle said a court of inquiry would give Anderson a chance to clear his name and Morton a chance to seek a greater measure of justice.

Harle will put his request in writing – he gave no timeline – to Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, who will determine whether to convene a court of inquiry to examine the allegations.

If Jefferson agrees, the Supreme Court would assign a state district judge to oversee the court of inquiry, which is a fact-finding body that would determine whether any state laws were violated. The court would not issue a punishment or criminal conviction.

After the hearing, Morton choked up briefly when facing reporters. “When you do the right thing, like the judge did today, everything falls into place,” said Morton, now sporting a gray goatee. [Emphasis added]

Good news for Morton.

02.09.12

We have a revenue problem

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, Commentary, Taxes, The Budget at 1:39 pm by wcnews

I came across a very interesting debate on economic policy from last month. between Jared Bernstein and Arthur Laffer at the TPPF’s annual conference. It was basically a Keynesian vs. Supply Side debate. But there was agreement on one point – we need more revenue!

Here’s Jared Bernstein’s post on the debate, Arguing Supply Side with One of Its Founders. The main problem with supply side economics is that they create deficits. Which makes sense that lowering taxes, would therefore bring in less tax revenue. That’s always been the knock on this, why the first President Bush called it “Voodoo Economics” 30 years ago.

History also clearly shows that supply-side tax cuts, since they don’t have the growth effects that their adherents tout, are causally linked to structural budget deficits (meaning deficits that persist even at full economic capacity). As long as policy makers believe this stuff, it will be near impossible to get on a sustainable fiscal path.

[...]

Actually, a critical point: we need more revenue! And while we differed on how you get it—remember, these supply-siders believe growth and revenue are always a tax cut away—the theory is always structured around marginal rate cuts. So true supply-siders are quite comfortable with ideas that broaden the tax base, say by ending the privileged status of non-labor income, like cap gains and dividends, something I’ve advocating for big-time around these parts. [Emphasis added]

The argument is to take away loopholes, and make sure that at least some tax is paid on ALL income. Which would make the wealthy scream.

Here’s the visual of the discrepancy between intake and outgo, Misleading Mantra, Tax and Spend Version.

 

It’s easy to see from that why deficits are increasing. And inequality has blossomed, The Triggers of Economic Inequality.

But this is not just a problem at the national level. Texas has a revenue problem too. And it was created 5 years ago by a disastrous GOP tax swap scheme. This recently released policy page from the CPPP tells what happened, How to Fill the Hole in the Texas Revenue System.

The key question is how big the difference is between the amount needed for the state to keep its promise of replacing the property taxes the Legislature required school districts to give up and the new state revenue created by the 2006 tax changes. In other words, how big is the state’s structural deficit?

The answer is almost $10 billion per biennium. [Emphasis added]

In 2008-09, the additional state revenue created by the 2006 tax changes was $5.04 billion. In 2010-11, it was $4.23 billion. And, according to the Comptroller’s December 2011 Certification Revenue Estimate for 2012-13, the total will be $4.36 billion in 2012-13.

Remember: the amount needed to replace the property taxes that school districts were required to give up is $14.2 billion per biennium.

So the structural deficit was $9.16 billion in 2008-09, $9.95 billion in 2010-11, and an anticipated $9.84 billion in 2012-13.

So we had a supposed “tax swap” – and it was known at the time that it would not bring in enough revenue – that has turned out to be a tax cut. Which is shorting the state needed revenue to pay for public education and Medicare (see posts below). And all our current elected representatives want to tell us is we don’t have a revenue problem?!  And that we have to cut more. We have a revenue problem and it’s time those who’ve been getting off easy to sacrifice like the rest of us.

Further Reading:
Strengthening State Fiscal Policies for a Stronger Economy.
Chart of the Day: We Have a Taxing Problem, Not a Spending Problem.

02.08.12

Resegregation via redistricting, the new Southern Strategy

Posted in Around The Nation, Around The State, Redistricting at 11:06 pm by wcnews

A great article from Ari Berman in The Nation, How the GOP Is Resegregating the South.  It shows that the GOP’s plan is “to ultimately make the Democratic Party in the South be represented only by people of color”.

And it’s not just happening in North Carolina. In virtually every state in the South, at the Congressional and state level, Republicans—to protect and expand their gains in 2010—have increased the number of minority voters in majority-minority districts represented overwhelmingly by black Democrats while diluting the minority vote in swing or crossover districts held by white Democrats. “What’s uniform across the South is that Republicans are using race as a central basis in drawing districts for partisan advantage,” says Anita Earls, a prominent civil rights lawyer and executive director of the Durham-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “The bigger picture is to ultimately make the Democratic Party in the South be represented only by people of color.” The GOP’s long-term goal is to enshrine a system of racially polarized voting that will make it harder for Democrats to win races on local, state, federal and presidential levels. Four years after the election of Barack Obama, which offered the promise of a new day of postracial politics in states like North Carolina, Republicans are once again employing a Southern Strategy that would make Richard Nixon and Lee Atwater proud.

The same holds true at the state level, where only 10 percent of state legislative races can be considered a tossup. “If these maps hold, Republicans have a solid majority plus a cushion in the North Carolina House and Senate,” says J. Michael Bitzer, a professor of political science at Catawba College. “They don’t even need to win the swing districts.” North Carolina is now a political paradox: a presidential swing state with few swing districts. Republicans have turned what Bitzer calls an “aberration”—the Tea Party wave of 2010—“into the norm.”

Republicans accomplished this remarkable feat by drawing half the state’s black population of 2.2 million people, who vote overwhelmingly for Democrats, into a fifth of all legislative and Congressional districts. As a result, black voters are twice as likely as white voters to see their communities divided. “The new North Carolina legislative lines take the cake for the most grotesquely drawn districts I’ve ever seen,” says Jeff Wice, a Democratic redistricting lawyer in Washington.

According to data compiled by Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, precincts that are 90 percent white have a 3 percent chance of being split, and precincts that are 80 percent black have a 12 percent chance of being split, but precincts with a BVAP between 15 and 45 percent have a 40 percent chance of being split. Republicans “systematically moved [street] blocks in or out of their precincts on the basis of their race,” found Ted Arrington, a redistricting expert at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. “No other explanation is possible given the statistical data.” Such trends reflect not just a standard partisan gerrymander but an attack on the very idea of integration. In one example, Senate redistricting chair Bob Rucho admitted that Democratic State Senator Linda Garrou was drawn out of her plurality African-American district in Winston-Salem and into an overwhelmingly white Republican district simply because she is white. “The districts here take us back to a day of segregation that most of us thought we’d moved away from,” says State Senator Dan Blue Jr., who in the 1990s was the first African-American Speaker of the North Carolina House.

It’s a corporate backed effort to make sure the GOP is able to hold the gains they made in 2010. And North Carolina has it’s own version of Texas’ Bob Perry, his name is Art Pope.

Race has always been at the center of the Southern Strategy, though not always in ways you’d expect. In addition to pushing hot-button issues like busing and welfare to appeal to white voters, Southern Republicans formed an “unholy alliance” with black Southern Democrats when it came to redistricting. In the 1980s and ’90s, when white Democrats ruled the Statehouses, Republicans supported new majority-minority districts for black Democrats in select urban and rural areas in exchange for an increased GOP presence elsewhere, especially in fast-growing metropolitan suburbs. With Democrats grouped in fewer areas, Republicans found it easier to target white Democrats for extinction. Ben Ginsberg, a prominent GOP election lawyer, memorably termed the strategy “Project Ratfuck.”

Republicans prepared for the 2010 election with an eye toward replicating and expanding this strategy. The Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) unveiled the Redistricting Majority Project (REDMAP) in 2010 to target Statehouse races and put Republicans in charge of redistricting efforts following the election. Ed Gillespie, former chair of the Republican National Committee, became the group’s chair, while Chris Jankowski, a corporate lobbyist in Virginia, handled day-to-day operations. The group, which as a tax-exempt 527 could accept unlimited corporate donations, became the self-described “lead Republican Redistricting organization,” taking over many of the functions of the RNC. The RSLC attracted six- and seven-figure donations from the likes of the US Chamber of Commerce, tobacco companies Altria and Reynolds American, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the Karl Rove–founded American Crossroads and the American Justice Partnership, a conservative legal group that has been a partner of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a state-based conservative advocacy group. Funding from these corporate interests allowed the RSLC to spend $30 million on state races in 2010, including $1.2 million in North Carolina.

One of the group’s largest funders in North Carolina was Art Pope, a furniture magnate who has bankrolled much of the state’s conservative movement. Pope’s Variety Wholesalers gave $36,500 to the RSLC in July 2010. The RSLC then gave $1.25 million to a group called Real Jobs NC to run attack ads against Democrats. In total, Pope and Pope-supported entities spent $2.2 million on twenty-two state legislative races, winning eighteen. After the election, the GOP redistricting committees hired the RSLC’s redistricting expert, Tom Hofeller, to redraw North Carolina’s districts. He was paid with state dollars through the General Assembly budget. (Hofeller says he has also been “intensely involved” in this cycle’s redistricting process in Alabama, Massachusetts, Texas and Virginia.)

Pope has long been “the moving force behind Republican redistricting efforts in North Carolina,” says Dan Blue Jr. (Pope says he supports an independent state redistricting commission.) In 1992 Pope urged Blue, then Statehouse Speaker, to create twenty-six majority-minority districts. Blue refused, creating nineteen instead. Pope then sued him. “He seemed to believe that African-Americans were required to be represented by African-Americans,” Blue says. Twenty years later, Hofeller enacted Pope’s strategy. “The best recent example of success is in North Carolina,” the RSLC wrote in a July 2011 blog post.

And Texas is right in there with the worst of the worst.

Texas, a state not known for subtlety, chose to ignore its rapidly growing minority population altogether. One of four majority-minority states, Texas grew by ?4.3 million people between 2000 and 2010, two-thirds of them Hispanics and 11 percent black. As a result, the state gained four Congressional seats this cycle. Yet the number of seats to which minority voters could elect a candidate declined, from eleven to ten. As a result, Republicans will pick up three of the four new seats. “The Texas plan is by far the most extreme example of racial gerrymandering among all the redistricting proposals passed by lawmakers so far this year,” says Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters.

As in the rest of the South, the new lines were drawn by white Republicans with no minority input. As the maps were drafted, Eric Opiela, counsel to the state’s Congressional Republicans, referred to key sections of the Voting Rights Act as “hocus-pocus.” Last year the Justice Department found that the state’s Congressional and Statehouse plans violated Section 5 of the VRA by “diminishing the ability of citizens of the United States, on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group, to elect their preferred candidates of choice.” (Texas has lost more Section 5 enforcement suits than any other state.)

Only by reading the voluminous lawsuits filed against the state can one appreciate just how creative Texas Republicans had to be to so successfully dilute and suppress the state’s minority vote. According to a lawsuit filed by a host of civil rights groups, “even though Whites’ share of the population declined from 52 percent to 45 percent, they remain the majority in 70 percent of Congressional Districts.” To cite just one of many examples: in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the Hispanic population increased by 440,898, the African-American population grew by 152,825 and the white population fell by 156,742. Yet white Republicans, a minority in the metropolis, control four of five Congressional seats. Despite declining in population, white Republicans managed to pick up two Congressional seats in the Dallas and Houston areas. In fact, whites are the minority in the state’s five largest counties but control twelve of nineteen Congressional districts.

Based on these disturbing facts, a DC District Court invalidated the state’s maps and ordered a three-judge panel in San Antonio to draw new ones that better accounted for Texas’s minority population, which improved Democratic prospects. The Supreme Court, however, recently ruled that the San Antonio court must use the state’s maps as the basis for the new districts, at least until a separate three-judge panel in Washington decides whether the maps violate the VRA. Final arguments will take place January 31, in a case that could have far-reaching ramifications for the rights of minority voters not just in Texas but across the South.

The new Southern Strategy Berman calls it.

02.07.12

Perry trying to stay relevant, shake lame duck lable

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, Williamson County at 1:09 pm by wcnews

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s “I’m not a lame duck”  campaign started last night.  And he went to one of the reddest of red areas of Texas, Williamson County, to kick it off.  He stated that he’s “..not slipping off into the sunset”, and that “We’ve got plenty of work to do right here in the state of Texas”.

We can only assume that “work” includes further destruction of public education and gutting of Medicare.

Texas faces a number of its own challenges in the wake of a budget shortfall that led to billions of dollars in cuts to education and other programs last year. Robert Scott, the Perry-appointed state education commissioner, last week told school administrators that he would not certify the state’s ban on social promotion — the practice of advancing students to the next grade even if they’re not ready — unless the state provides more money to help students struggling to pass new, more rigorous standardized tests.

Perry did not directly address Scott’s comments Monday, but he hardly sounded sympathetic to the commissioner’s concerns.

“Some will try to measure the quality of our education and our schools solely on the amount of dollars that they send to the schools, but ultimately success is about the results that we get out of our schools,” Perry said. “Money is important, but it’s not the sole determining factor of success.”

Many lawmakers have said the Legislature should tackle tax reform next year because the state’s main business tax, which was reconfigured as part of an overall tax cut in 2006, brings in billions of dollars less than state officials projected it would. The underperformance of that tax contributed to last year’s budget shortfall.

But on Monday, Perry emphasized his opposition to tax increases. “They’re not coming from Florida and California and other states because they want to pay more taxes,” he said.

It’s clear from his words that the wealthy in Texas will not be asked to sacrifice as long as Perry and the Texas GOP are in charge. Tasteless jokes aside, it was an uneventful event.

These are all things Perry has to say, and will continue to say, so he can be taken seriously in the next legislative session. Barring a Dewhurst loss in his US Senate run, Texas will have a new Lt. Gov for the first time in 10 years. The insider political process to choose Dewhurst’s successor is likely to cause bad blood in the Senate.  And the Texas House is already set for considerable turnover. Straus is likely back as Speaker, but likely with a more moderated, less right-wing, partisan make up.

With all of that Perry will likely be looking to dominate the next legislative session and couldn’t if he’s perceived as a lame duck. So even if Perry’s planning not to run again, he’ll keep it under wraps until much closer to the filing deadline for the 2014 Primary.

Perry said that he “..just ran out of time“, to win the GOP nomination for President. Denial is one of the stages of grief.   But the reality is he ran off his support. His campaigned proved that time was his worst enemy. He was the front runner before he opened his mouth, and it was all downhill from there. He was a bad candidate, and had one of the worst debate screw ups in US political history. It would seem, out of fairness and humility, Perry would step aside, not run for governor again, and let his party move on without him. But Perry’s never been known for either of those.

02.06.12

Economic inequality in Texas needs to be addressed

Posted in Around The State, Inequality, Right Wing Lies, Taxes, The Budget, The Economy at 3:05 pm by wcnews

We’ve been told, over and over again, by our Texas GOP leaders that Texas should be an economic model for our nation. Mainly because Texas came through the recession in better shape then much of the nation, at least when it comes to unemployment.  (Although Paul Krugman has a different take).

While jobs are extremely important for economic success in our state and nation, the true gauge of how we’re doing, economically speaking, is much more then just the unemployment rate or job creation numbers.  We must measure more than how many jobs we are creating, we must also measure whether we are creating jobs that pay a living wage. Jobs that pay enough, as Teddy Roosevelt said, “..to make morality possible”. (Wages in Texas a low).

That’s what this article brought to mind, Many Texans earn low pay, hold few assets.

Texans politicians like to tout the state’s economic growth, but more and more Texans are finding themselves teetering on the edge of poverty.

There is little doubt Texas has survived the Great Recession better than other states, but a study by the Corporation for Enterprise Development has found that 27.7 percent of Texas households have no financial cushion in case of an emergency. If you exclude homes and automobiles from the calculation, a full 50 percent of Texans have no assets they could use to survive if they suddenly lost their income.

When compared to the rest of the country, Texas ranks 41st in financial security. That means even if Texans survived the last economic storm, another one would swamp them. The corporation is a national non-partisan, non-profit that works to create and identify programs and policies that can help poor people move up the economic ladder.

[...]

Poverty is also most acute among children, with 25.7 percent of Texas children living in poverty, compared to 21.6 percent nationally. According to former state demographer Steve Murdock, a poor child who attends college is seven times more likely to move into the middle class, so public education is critical.

Almost 26% of Texas children living in poverty is downright despicable. But don’t expect it to get better as long as the GOP runs the state. They take their cues from Grover Norquist and the TPPF.

So the question remains: What role should state government play in helping people escape poverty?

The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a conservative think-tank in Austin with tremendous influence over Republican officeholders. Bill Peacock, the group’s vice president for research, said more budget cuts are the answer because government is too inefficient to make a difference.

“The poor don’t need a safety net, they need jobs,” Peacock said. Programs like Medicaid, he argued, require working people to pay taxes instead of spending their money in a way that creates more jobs. Conservatives believe that less government spending leads to greater economic prosperity.

Progressives, or liberals, believe that society and the economy are imperfect, and government plays a role in caring for the needy and providing a level playing field. The Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities is a non-profit that fights for better government programs to help the poor.

“There needs to be public policy that really enables economic mobility and removes policies that get in the way,” said Don Baylor, a senior policy analyst at the center. As an example, Texas law requires someone to empty their savings account before they can receive financial help, which also happens to make it more difficult for that person to get back on their feet.

In the Occupy Wall Street and tea party era, economic inequality will be an important issue in the 2012 election, particularly in Texas where it appears to be only getting worse. The choices of how to solve the problem couldn’t be more different. [Emphasis added]

If all it took was a job, and an austere budget, then these numbers should be much different then they are.  The truth is, that all the the no-tax GOP economics of the last decade has meant nothing but economic decline for anyone that isn’t wealthy in Texas. Here’s the link to the report mentioned in the article above, Assets & Opportunity Scorecard. And here’s the Texas Scorecard (Rank 41).  Texas ranks 51st in health care, with over 26% uninsured.

Economic inequality in Texas needs to be addressed immediately. We need candidates to run and get elected that will fight to fix the inequality.  Texans need to have options on the ballot in order to make the choice in 2012.

Further Reading:
Report: Majority of Texans Lack “Rainy Day” Savings.

TPA Blog Round Up (February 6, 2012)

Posted in Around The State, Commentary at 10:06 am by wcnews

The Texas Progressive Alliance thought that was one of the better halftime shows it has seen recently as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Texas gets a C on its science curriculum standards, despite the worst efforts of the wingnut faction on the State Board of Education. Off the Kuff has the details.

Anonymous blogging is First Amendment-protected speech, as most of us (but not some conservative bloggers) knew three years ago. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs documents the establishment of the legal precedent.

BossKitty at TruthHugger wants you to ask your candidate about America’s water safety. The 35-year-old federal law regulating tap water is so out of date that everyone, unable to afford expensive purification devices, is at risk. Water Crisis And the 2012 Presidential Campaign

WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts on the struggle Texas teachers and schools are having because of the billions the legislature cut from public education last year, Texas teachers and schools need our help.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants you to know that Planned Parenthood, unions, and the Girl Scouts aren’t the only institutions the republicans are trying to kill.

At TexasKaos, Libby Shaw nails the Komen Foundation flap and sees its parallels in Texas. Give it a read: The Republican Jihad On Women.

Blogging on protests at home and abroad, Neil at Texas Liberal posted about a website hosting conference calls for Occupy participants across the nation, and also made a post relating a number of links to learn more about events in Syria.

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