When a politician starts boasting about new tools look out

Posted in 82nd Legislature, Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Commentary, Education, Public Schools, Right Wing Lies, Taxes, Teachers, The Budget, The Lege at 9:59 am by wcnews

Whenever a politician starts talking about “new tools” and “tool boxes” it translates into screwing everyone who isn’t rich or a corporation. That was, and still is, the case with transportation funding. The current tools that are about to be added to the Texas tool box are teacher pay cuts, furloughs, and larger class sizes.

Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, chairwoman of the Education Committee, said SB8, approved by an 18-12 vote, would give school districts more flexibility to respond to budget constraints without firing teachers. More controversial measures moving through the Texas House would enlarge class sizes and eliminate a long-standing minimum salary schedule for teachers. [Emphasis added]

“We’re just giving these new tools,” Shapiro said. “We’re not saying you have to do this.”

Teacher pay cuts, furloughs, larger class sizes, and hiring new teachers for cheap all makes it sound like a quality education can’t be far behind. We all know what happens when people are asked to work for less, in bad working conditions, and for longer hours. Quality suffers. But that would only matter if the Texas GOP cared about providing a quality education for Texas public school children.

It’s no coincidence that as Texas public schools have struggled the GOP in Texas has thrived. See the connection? A less-educated population means more Republicans get elected. It’s no wonder why they want to destroy public education.

What is clear and has been for some time is that there are tools available to us, that few politicians talk about, that could easily fix this situation without bringing so much pain on poor, working, and middle class Texans. Jason Embry points it out, Choice between tax exemption and school funding symbolic of budget debate.

A couple of votes in the Texas House and Senate offered an unusually clear view of the choices lawmakers faced in this tough budget year.

The Senate vote came Friday, at the end of the first week of a special legislative session, when Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth proposed amending a school funding bill by ending a tax exemption for the natural gas industry.

The high-cost gas tax exemption, created in 1989, was designed to spur drilling for natural gas. It began as a temporary measure but was made permanent in 2003, and this year it has been a frequent target for lawmakers who decry the Legislature’s decision to rely solely on spending cuts and accounting tricks to fix a budget shortfall.

The exemption cost the state about $1.2 billion in 2009, according to the Legislative Budget Board. Repealing it would allow at least some of that money to flow to public schools, which are set to receive $4 billion less in the next budget than the state owes them under current law.

But Davis’ effort to repeal the exemption failed, with the Senate’s 11 other Democrats voting with her and 18 Republicans voting against her. Sen. Steve Ogden, a Bryan Republican who works in the oil and gas industry, registered “present not voting.”

Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, said that the issue was worth further study but that Friday was not the right time to make such a change.

As any Christian knows, if not equal gifts but equal sacrifice. Right now those on the bottom are making huge sacrifices, while those at the top are giving next to nothing and reaping all the benefits. The Texas GOP has made clear that their number one tool is to protect the wealthy and corporations from paying their fair share of taxes. Therefore the rest of us will have to pay their share. That’s life in Rick Perry’s “Texas Century”.

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