So I've been on hiatus for quite awhile now. I haven't lost interest in my campaign, I've been busy caring for my mom while she grew and birthed my little sister who's now a month old. Now I'm busy protecting her too! That said it's time to get back to my day job.
So being from the great state of Texas, I'm going to talk about something that never seems to get talked about outside of Texas. Or maybe it does and I'm just not aware of it. Texas has always had articles talking about it's 'surplus' (which I find completely wrong that a surplus is retained in a 'rainy day fund' and isn't returned to the taxpayers), 'what Texas is doing right,' etc. etc. Many of you may have seen the great hair Governor Rick Perry traveling the country touting his book and talking about how great everything is in Texas, and trying to sound like a libertarian, while 'not running for president of the United States.'
What the great Rick Perry isn't talking about is the $25 Billion deficit that they must tackle in the current legislative session. He and Republicans insist this will be tackled 1. by not raising taxes, and 2. by not touching the rainy day fund. Suddenly Texas government is not so different from California's in the sense that they are writing checks their budgets and banks can't cash.
The solutions will have to come from the 3 biggest programs that make up the Texas budget.
1. Health and Human Services
3. Higher Education
I'm all for deep cuts in these areas but here's the thing. Cuts made from the state budget result in cuts from federal funds received that help operate these programs. In Medicaid services, the expenditures are primarily for funds paid to providers. So cuts have to come in rates paid to providers and/or the number of clients services are provided to. This is not a popular choice for anyone. Though personally, I'm in favor of tougher eligibility requirements.
When it comes to Education, essentially this is paid for with property taxes whether you have kids in public school or not. If you've read through any of my posts, you'll see I'm all in favor of a voucher system. Eliminate the education bureaucracy and minimize the number of public schools available. Keep only the highest performing ones open and those that have enough voucher participants to stay open. I would also say operate all public schools as charter schools. Parents and students could choose where kids go to school. All schools would be operating as a business and if there is no demand for their services they would change or go away.
Education is also funded by the Texas lottery. Another thing that will get brought to the table is casino gambling. I'm all for this, but I would be shocked if this got approved as it's always been shot down in the past as immoral or whatever other stupid reasons they have to vote against it. They'd much rather people go to Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, rather than stay in or come to Texas. Gotta love the logic. Even if it did pass this session, it wouldn't do anything to help the current deficit as it would take a legislative cycle (2 years) to build and make a difference to the state's budget.
Higher education. These are freaking universities. Why aren't they self sufficient? They should have their own budgets made up of money out equals no more than money in. If they want more money they need to either raise tuition, increase the number of students allowed in or both. And/or they need to find other ways to generate revenue for the schools. There is no good reason, that anyone will convince me of, for Universities to be part of the state's budget. Though I'm sure many will disagree with me.
Anyways I just wanted to talk about the reality in Texas. It's not going to be a pretty session. It's going to be interesting to see how they 'solve' this. And I find it interesting how 'conservative' leadership got us to this deficit rather than plan for this last session when we already had an indication that the economy was headed for a recession.