Wendy Davis acknowledged Wednesday that her proposals to improve public schools will cost more money, but she said revenue is available if lawmakers will make education a priority and eliminate some corporate tax breaks.
“We need a governor who will lead the Legislature in a bipartisan way to find the smart ways to create that investment,” said Davis, the Democratic nominee, at an Austin news conference.
Davis said that because of Texas’ booming economy, budget writers next year are expected to have a $4 billion surplus and billions more in the state rainy day fund.
She said that existing revenue, coupled with “closing corporate tax loopholes that have been on the books in Texas for decades,” should provide lawmakers with the money needed to balance the budget and boost funding for education without new taxes.
Asked what corporate tax breaks she would close, Davis’ campaign cited as an example property tax breaks for greenbelts used exclusively for recreation and parks, including private country clubs. Another tax break targeted by the Davis campaign is $111 million a year the state loses by rewarding large stores for paying their sales taxes on time.
Davis said she and Abbott offer “starkly different paths for our state” on investment in public schools.
Cue the whining and crying form politicians funded by corporations.
Republican nominee Greg Abbott says his Democratic opponent would raise taxes if elected governor.
Of course we know what Abbott’s plan is for public education – continued neglect. While corporations have been getting off too easy for way too long in Texas, they should see this as a way of helping themselves. After all, there’s no better economic development plan for our state then a well educated work force.
Davis Would End Tax Give-Aways To Corporations To Fund Education
The judge who presided over the July trial of Greg Kelley has recused himself from considering Kelley’s motion for a new trial.
District Judge Billy Ray Stubblefield sent a letter Monday to the chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court asking that another judge consider the motion for a new trial.
“The interests of justice would be served by having another judge consider the Defendant’s Motion for New Trial and the State’s response thereto with fresh eyes and ears,” said the letter.
The letter provided no further explanation for Stubblefield’s decision to recuse himself. A judge has until Sept. 29 to decide whether to grant a hearing on the motion.
I’m not sure if this means anything or not. It seems it would make sense to have a different judge from the trial judge rule on the request for a new trial. With a new judge if the ruling goes against Kelley it would seem to bolster the case against him. This is definitely something to keep an eye on.
The economy in Texas has never been miraculous. Bleeding the people dry while stockpiling cash is no miracle.
There are two ways for governments to pay for things – taxes or debt. Today we learn from the Texas Tribune that in recent years local governments have been using one much more than the other. Local Debt Climbs as Texas Cities Deal With Growth. It starts by highlighting what happened in Jarrell, here in Williamson County.
Eight years ago, officials with the city of Jarrell decided their small community north of Austin needed a new wastewater system. They expected an influx of new residents and businesses to support some debt to pay for the project.
“That was about the time the market crashed,” City Manager Mel Yantis said. “Building basically rolled to a stop.”
As of 2013, Jarrell’s $10.3 million debt works out to $9,928 for each of the community’s 1,035 residents. It is one of the highest per-capita debt loads among Texas cities, which mostly have debt loads of less than $1,000 per resident.
In recent years, nearly all of Jarrell’s property taxes — 39 out of 44 cents per $100 of assessed value — have gone to paying off debt, Yantis said. That’s meant holding off on other projects, like expanding the police force.
Yantis expects the payments to drop significantly around 2021. Residents will notice the difference pretty quickly.
“They may see large increase in services without any increase in tax rate,” Yantis said. “It’ll be a good day for Jarrell whenever that debt’s paid down.”
This happened all over Texas before the 2008 collapse, where exponential growth was expected to continue unabated. Of course it didn’t and the local governments were left holding the bag.
Jarrell’s story is an extreme example of the way hundreds of Texas communities are relying more on borrowing to handle basic public services. Over the last decade, local government debt has grown around the country, but Texas, with an economic performance in recent years that has outpaced the rest of the country, is a special case. Of the 10 largest states, Texas has the second-highest local debt per capita as cities and school districts have gone on a borrowing spree to maintain or expand amenities while not raising taxes.
When communities are short on cash, local officials can choose to sell bonds to private investors, promising to pay it back later with interest. There are two main types of local debt issued in Texas: taxpayer-supported debt, which is backed by local property taxes, and revenue-supported debt, which is typically used to finance infrastructure projects and paid back through sales taxes or user fees. While both types of debt have grown in Texas in recent years, critics have expressed more concern over taxpayer-supported debt, which is usually voter-approved and can be tougher to pay off if projections for economic performance or population growth don’t pan out.
Between local cities, school districts and counties, more than half of all Texans live in areas where the bill for taxpayer-supported debt, including expected interest, totals more than $1 billion, according to state data analyzed by The Texas Tribune. In parts of the state’s two most populous counties — Harris and Dallas — the total cost of local debt tops $5 billion.
We have to remember that for the last several years Texas has been running a surplus and the Economic Stabilization Fund, aka the Rainy Day Fund, has been filling up with money. And that money, which is supposed to be used in time of economic turmoil, is just sitting there, while local communities suffer.
Since the GOP took over control of our state government they’re more then willing to stockpile taxpayer money and let poor, working and middle class Texans continue to struggle. They tout the monthly tax numbers while so many struggle to get by. They’ve made mistake after mistake trying to use the “private sector” instead of government. (More mistakes here and here). In almost every case it’s wound up costing taxpayers more int the long run.
The GOP has made a living telling everyone how bad the government is as opposed to business. You know, everything was supposed to be so much better if we just ran government like a business. Not so much.
The truth is – despite the Texas Tribune series – there is not, and never was, anything miraculous about what happened in Texas. The GOP has been neglecting the needs of the people of Texas while doing everything they can to make things easy for, and hand taxpayer money to corporations and big business. Neglect and greed.
Why can’t Obama be more like LBJ and just get some things done, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs wondered. But just in a facetious way; if we ever had another president half as badass as LBJ, we’d come to regret it.
Neil at All People Have Value went to the Texas City Buc-ee’s. Neil wishes that trendy restaurants in Houston had a sign up like at the Buc-ee’s saying that staff made a wage higher than minimum wage. All People Have Value is one page of many at NeilAquino.com.
With students and teachers going back to school this week, Texas Leftist has an assignment for everyone. Is your school district one of 600 suing Greg Abbott and the Texas GOP-led legislature?Consult the list and map to see. Here’s a hint… It’s not just the schools in blue counties.
And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.
Lone Star Q notes that some companies that have strong LGBT equality policies nonetheless have no problem contributing financially to candidates that oppose such equality.
‘stina puts the Ice Bucket Challenge into some context.
And finally, kudos to Media Matters For America for recognizing the difference between how the Texas press covered the Rick Perry indictment and how the national press covered it. To help some of those national pundits understand what the indictments are about, Craig McDonald and Andrew Wheat of Texans for Public Justice wrote a piece for Politico explaining why they filed their complaint in the first place.
Charter schools are such a racket, across the nation they are attracting special attention from the FBI, which is working with the Department of Education’s inspector general to look into allegations of charter-school fraud.
One target, covered in an August 12 story in The Atlantic, is the secretive Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen, who runs the largest charter-school chain in the United States.
The Atlantic felt compelled to note, repeatedly, that it would be xenophobic to single out the Gulen schools and their mysterious Muslim founder for lack of transparency and the misuse of public funds.
“It isn’t the Gulen movement that makes Gulen charters so secretive,” writes The Atlantic’s Scott Beauchamp, “it’s the charter movement itself.”
Kristen Buras, associate professor of education policies at Georgia State University, agrees.
“Originally, charter schools were conceived as a way to improve public education,” Buras says. “Over time, however, the charter school movement has developed into a money-making venture.”
Over the last decade, the charter school movement has morphed from a small, community-based effort to foster alternative education into a national push to privatize public schools, pushed by free-market foundations and big education-management companies. This transformation opened the door to profit-seekers looking for a way to cash in on public funds.
Anyone who’s willing to pay can find out the best way to fix education in the US. And it has nothing to do with teachers, or teachers unions. It’s poverty. Many think that if we fix education we fix poverty. Well actually it’s the other way around. Fix poverty and we’ll fix education. And that helps she a light on why the charter schools are such a scam. Because they’re doing nothing to fix poverty.
In debates about education reform, one very common pattern of arguments has emerged. Education reformers like Rhee jump into the forum and confidently proclaim that poor students are failing to acquire good educations because of bad schools and bad teachers. Then, those who actually know things about child poverty respond that poverty, by itself, is a massive impediment to educational attainment because of its damaging effects on human functioning.
On its face, this response should pose no particular problem for education reformers. If they want, they can synthesize these two points by saying that both poverty and bad schools drag down educational attainment, and that we should therefore target both. Under such a synthesis, the reformers would come out in favor of very simple and empirically proven ways (they love data!) to dramatically reduce child poverty, and also make the case for their specific education reforms. But, with few exceptions, they don’t do that.
Instead, would-be reformers like Michelle Rhee totally abandon advocating for poverty reduction in favor of flavorless, politically neutral policies that don’t offend big donors. Generally, the refusal to recognize the role poverty plays in diminishing educational attainment forms three themes. In the first, reformers claim that people who chalk up low educational attainment to poverty are just excuse-making. This is, of course, manifestly absurd: Someone who says educational outcomes are harmed by poverty is not making an excuse out of poverty; they are identifying it as the (or a) cause. To argue such explanations are really excuses is as absurd as saying that Michelle Rhee is using “bad schools” as an excuse for low educational attainment. In other words, the “excuse” gambit is both false and nonsensical.
It’s much easier to fix our road problem then our education problem. But, as with so much in Texas, it’s likely going to get worse before it get’s better. But nothing’s going to change with education until we re-start the war on poverty, and get rid of the con artists.
Did we all catch that? The complaint was filed before the veto was made. Let me repeat that, with formatting and an active voice construction: TPJ filed their complaint before Rick Perry vetoed the Public Integrity Unit funds. It wasn’t about the veto, it was about the threat, the coercion, of a duly elected public official that did not answer to Rick Perry. Anyone who opines about this in any fashion and doesn’t grasp that fact has no frigging idea what they’re talking about and should be ignored.Another test for ignorance by those who bloviate about this case, in particular those who go on about Rosemary Lehmberg’s DUI arrest and of course it was sensible for Rick Perry to want a drunk DA to step down: Rosemary Lehmberg was the third District Attorney in Texas to be arrested for drunk driving during Rick Perry’s time as Governor. She was the first such DA to come under any pressure from Rick Perry about it. She was also the first such DA to be a Democrat. And yet it’s Rick Perry who’s the victim of a partisan vendetta, by a non-partisan special prosecutor appointed by a Republican judge who was appointed to hear the case by another Republican judge.
As Perry and his lawyers have said, governors have the right to issue a veto for virtually any reason they want. The indictment is about an alleged abuse of power. It contends Perry threatened to veto funds in an unsuccessful effort to muscle a duly elected county officials from office.
One way to think about the prosecution: It’s perfectly legal to veto something. And it’s perfectly legal to demand that an elected official you don’t like should resign. But it might be illegal to link the two.
For example, it’s legal to make a campaign contribution. And it’s legal to ask somebody to do something. But it’s illegal to tie one to the other. One area apparently explored by the grand jury was whether there were post-veto discussions in which the issue was no longer a veto but whether Perry’s side considered paying state money to restore funding if Lehmberg would leave or take another job.
Now that he’s been processed by the system and entered a plea this issue is likely to die down for a while. Hopefully those in the national media will try harder to understand how much trouble Perry is actually in.
Two key state lawmakers from opposing parties say they haven’t given up on creating a plan that would allow Texas to collect billions of federal Medicaid dollars tied to the Affordable Care Act.
They believe that with Rick Perry leaving the governor’s office there may be another opportunity to adopt a so-called “Texas Solution.”
Rep. Garnet Coleman, a Houston Democrat, and Rep. John Zerwas, a Republican from Richmond, are both health policy experts. Zerwas is a physician.
So last session — after Perry said “no” to being part of Obamacare — Zerwas and Coleman set aside party affiliations and crafted an alternative.
“Even the conservatives understood their communities would benefit from the boost financially. From the jobs that would be created,” Coleman said. “[But] there was no reason for members to go out and vote for something they thought would beat them in the Republican primary. And frankly I don’t blame them.”
The Zerwas-Coleman legislation, HB 1391, called for Texas to do what other states have done to collect their share of federal money: Approach the Obama administration with an alternative that provides insurance coverage for more low-income people.
Their plan focused on the estimated 1.5 million Texas adults who earn 138 percent of what the federal government considers poverty level and therefore have no access to affordable coverage. That’s approximately $16,000 or less annually for an individual.
Zerwas says those Texans currently rely on emergency care that often comes too late.
“It doesn’t provide that access when you have early stage breast cancer versus later stage breast cancer,” he said. “It doesn’t provide you that … access to healthcare when you’ve got diabetes and early in your disease you’re trying to get control of your diabetes so you don’t end up with the serious qualities such as blindness and heart failure.”
The Zerwas-Coleman plan said the newly covered should share some of their insurance cost through co-pays or deductibles, which currently isn’t allowed under Medicaid. Private insurers would be involved. Taxes collected from premiums on healthcare plans would pay the state’s costs.
Zerwas told the Richardson crowd he thinks a similar plan could have a chance next session.
I would just like to know how Zerwas can possibly think this will have a chance in the next session. I would guess he thinks that Abbott and Patrick will win election in November. These two guys, mainly because of Patrick, will be exponentially further to the right then Perry and Dewhurst were. How in the world does he see a bill like that even getting to the Senate floor? I’ll give Zerwas credit, nice attempt at trying to make his party seem reasonable.
Texas right now is a wasteland for any kind of public support for those in need. There’s only one way Medicaid, or whatever someone wants to call it, get’s expanded in Texas. It’s only going to happen if Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte get elected.
That’s the only way it, and so many other issues that have been neglected for so long in Texas, have a chance next session.
It seems many don’t think Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s legal troubles are that serious. Only time will tell on that but we should at least make sure we really know what this is all about. To that end are a few links below to try and clear that up. But the charges are serious.
Kuff has two great posts up on the Perry indictment. First he puts forth a simple explanation of what the prosecution’s case could be, More on the Perry indictment.
…I think if it comes to a trial, the prosecution has a pretty straightforward story to tell. If I were in charge of this case – Lord help us if I were, but stay with me here – what I would present to the jury is a simple tale of coercion. One elected official does not have the right or the authority to force another elected official to resign, especially by making threats. The only authority Rick Perry has over Rosemary Lehmberg is what any other registered voter has over her. Let’s pretend for a moment that the DUI never happened and there is no CPRIT investigation to speak of. We all agree that if Rick Perry had just out of the blue told Rosemary Lehmberg in 2013 to resign or he’d veto funding for the Public Integrity Unit, that would be suspicious, right? Perry’s always been free to veto the PIU funding. It’s actually a little surprising that he hasn’t put pressure on the Lege to cut that function out of the Travis County DA office and give it to the Attorney General or something like that. But he hasn’t, maybe because it wasn’t worth the effort and the political fallout, or maybe he just had other fish to fry. Then Lehmberg goes and gets herself busted for drunk driving, and now maybe Perry has a wedge. That doesn’t give him any more right to threaten the duly elected Lehmberg than he’d had the day before she made the poor choice to get behind the wheel after downing too much vodka. One elected official cannot coerce another. I think a jury will have an easy time grasping that.
We were briefly introduced to Mike McCrum when he was named special prosecutor for this case, but that was much more cursory. What this story reminds us is that McCrum isn’t just a prosecutor. He’s also been a very successful defense attorney. As we saw yesterday, there are a lot of quotable defense attorneys out there poking holes in the indictments. One would think – at least, I would think – that someone like Mike McCrum, who has been on that side of the courtroom, would have analyzed this case and the evidence from that perspective as well, to better prepare himself for the courtroom battles to come. It’s certainly possible McCrum has missed the mark or gotten caught up in the job and focused too much on an end result, but I wouldn’t count on that. If he’s as diligent and as smart as people say he is, he’s got to have considered all this.
A little history here. When the complaint was filed by Texans for Public Justice against Perry, Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg recused herself from investigating it. That sent the complaint to the district courts of Travis County, where it was assigned to Judge Julie Kocurekof the 390th District Court. Kocurekof, a Democrat, recused herself as well. That kicked the case to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, where presiding Judge Billy Ray Stubblefield got it. Stubblefield then assigned the case to Senior Judge Bert Richardson, who I presume will be the judge from here on out barring anything weird. Richardson named McCrum as special prosecutor, since the Travis County DA had taken itself out, and the rest you know.
Well, actually, there’s one more thing you might not know. Both Judge Stubblefield of the 3rd Court of Appeals, and Judge Richardson, who is a Senior Judge after losing election in 2008, were originally appointed to their positions. By Rick Perry. Quite the liberal conspiracy working against him there, no?
Stubblefield is a Williamson County GOP judge, and he’s definitely not a liberal.
It is quite possible that the case against Rick Perry will fizzle. Perhaps it is “flimsy” and “thin” and all the rest. Credible legal experts have said they think the prosecution will have a difficult time securing a conviction. However, none of us is privy to the evidence and testimony presented to the grand jury. According to Peggy Fikac of the San Antonio Express-News, McCrum said he “interviewed more than 40 people, reviewed hundreds of documents and read many dozens of cases.” Fikac and other reporters who staked out the courthouse long before the national press spent five minutes reading the indictment watched “current and former Perry staffers, Travis County employees and state lawmakers” entering the grand jury room over the summer.
It is possible that McCrum has gathered more information on Perry’s motives that will come to light later. Although the indictment doesn’t mention it, the Public Integrity Unit is investigating a scandal involving the $3 billion Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, a fund close to the governor’s office that suffered from cronyism and lax oversight. The Public Integrity Unit indicted one CPRIT official in December for deceiving his colleagues and awarding an $11 million grant to a Dallas biotech firm without a proper vetting.
What else, if anything, did McCrum turn up in his interviews and document search? At this point, we just don’t know.
This doesn’t make for explosive headlines but the fact is, we’re just going to have to wait and see how the case unfolds.
Perry’s PR push so far is to make this about a veto, and to make Lehmberg’s DWI conviction the issue. But neither of those is what he was indicted for. He was indicted because he tried to coerce a elected official from office. Again from Wilder.
The criminal case against Perry centers on his “coercion” of a local elected official using threats and promises. It is not premised—as has been repeatedly misreported—on the veto itself. Craig McDonald, the head of Texans for Public Justice and the original complainant, has said as much. As McDonald told CNN:
“The governor is doing a pretty good job to try to make this about [Lehmberg] and her DWI conviction. But this has never been about his veto of her budget and about her. This is about his abuse of power and his coercion trying to get another public citizen to give up their job.”
He may not get convicted, but the charges are serious and they’re not about him vetoing a bill. If it was about just that he never would have been indicted.
Gov. Rick Perry was indicted on two felony counts for abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant late Friday by a Travis County grand jury.
The case stems from Perry’s vetoing the $7.5 million biennial funding for the Travis County Public Integrity Unit last year. He threatened to withhold the money unless District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg resigned.
In announcing the indictment, special prosecutor Michael McCrum of San Antonio said he felt confident of the charges brought against the governor and was “ready to go forward.”
Mary Anne Wiley, general counsel for the governor, said that Perry is being charged for exercising his rights and power as governor.
“The veto in question was made in accordance with the veto authority afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution. We will continue to aggressively defend the governor’s lawful and constitutional action, and believe we will ultimately prevail,” Wiley said.
Abuse of official capacity is a first-degree felony with punishment ranging from five to 99 years in prison, and coercion of a public servant is a third-degree felony with a penalty of two to 10 years.
The indictment immediately fueled partisan fighting. Perry is a conservative Republican indicted by a grand jury in a Democratic county. Regardless, the charges could cripple any chance of a second presidential campaign, which had been gathering some momentum in recent months.
In announcing the indictment, McCrum said that he weighed the duty he had in looking at a sitting governor.
“I took into account the fact that we’re talking about the governor of a state and the governor of the state of Texas, which we all love,” he said.
“Obviously, that carries a level of importance. But when it gets down to it, the law is the law,” McCrum said.
In the words of Vice President Joe Biden “This is a bid f&#cking deal”!