Teacher layoffs, jobs, Perry’s hypocrisy, and Texas’ deficit

Posted in Around The State, Commentary, The Budget, The Economy at 9:31 pm by wcnews

Via KXAN, Teacher layoffs will hamper economies.

Gov. Rick Perry can’t quit talking about jobs. But if he realizes his vision of a budget balanced through cuts alone, 100,000 teachers could lose their jobs.

That’s about a third of the 333,000 teachers employed by Texas public schools.

Despite the tough budget situation, Perry has asked for $50 million to spend on his Texas Enterprise Fund . That money is given to companies for doing business in Texas. That money could keep 1,000 teachers employed.

Perry has also asked for $20 million for the Texas Film Commission to give moviemakers when they film in Texas. That money could save 400 teacher jobs.

The Legislature is debating whether to grant Perry his requests, or use that money elsewhere.

Wow, jobs, jobs, jobs, just not teachers jobs. That’s the height of hypocrisy

It also looks like the Rainy Day Fund will be used to cover the budget deficit for the current biennium, Comptroller: Cuts alone won’t help Texas.

Committee Chairman Jim Pitts, a Waxahachie Republican, asked Combs to testify after he introduced a bill to spend $4.3 billion from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to cover the deficit. In opening Thursday’s hearing, he tried to communicate the gravity of the problem, which left lawmakers silent and stone-faced.

“The budget adopted by the Legislature last session, and signed by the governor, exceeded the comptroller’s measure of available revenue,” Pitts said. “This committee, and this Legislature, has very limited options: the use of the Rainy Day Fund, further reductions … or deferring payments into the next biennium.”

While Combs never called on the committee to dip into the Rainy Day Fund, she presented a detailed history of how it had been used in the past and how spending it would not hurt the state’s credit rating. She also examined the other options.

“I don’t know how you can get to $4.3 billion in cuts,” Combs said. She warned that even if the recession ends, that doesn’t mean revenues will return to levels seen in 2005, when the Texas economy was booming.

When some lawmakers tried to compare the situation to 2003, the last time they tapped the Rainy Day Fund, the Democratic vice chair chastened them.

“I wish this was 2003. But if anyone tries to compare 2003 to what we are going through now, and saying they are similar, you are not facing reality,” said state Rep. Sylvester, D-Houston. “This situation is far worse.”

Combs acknowledged that the recession that began in 2007 was the worst since the Rainy Day Fund was created. But she warned that lawmakers should think about the next four years, not just the next two, when considering how much of the fund to spend or how to fix a business tax that has never raised as much money as expected.

She also pointed out that if lawmakers did not make funds available to cover the deficit, she is obligated under the state constitution to borrow money from the Rainy Day Fund to pay the state’s bills.

To cover up for the previous budget deficit the RDF will be used.

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