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Texas Leads the Nation, Right Over the Cliff of Fiscal Irresponsibility

7:58 am in Uncategorized by Ruth Calvo

Behind the Creative Description, the REAL Fixer-Upper

(Picture courtesy of flickr.com.)

Hearing all about the tremendous appeal of TX governor Rick Perry’s appeal because his state is such a shining example of jobs and prosperity makes me shake my head in disbelief.   What the country should be looking at is the Houdini/voodoo nature of plugging budget gaps with the stimulus funds that Perry swore he wouldn’t touch.

Rick Perry couldn’t have pulled off the state’s fiscal year this time around without the funding he seriously tried to kill.   Doesn’t that sound like another recent governor of Texas’ methods?  If it’s kept off the books, he can pretend it doesn’t exist.

At the moment, is anyone aware that TX legislature is involved in another mangled attempt to cut more from education than U.S. law allows?   The rest of the budget is being patched together with spit and baling wire.

Instead of revamping the business tax structure or taking aim at tax exemptions, lawmakers cut billions of dollars in spending and cobbled together accounting maneuvers and spending delays to meet a massive shortfall and tide them over until 2013. They took a limited amount of money from the state’s rainy day fund, but leaders expect to dip into it again in a big way when they return in regular session in 2013.

Legislators also pushed back a looming gap in transportation funding by allowing issuance of the last of voter-approved bonds. They made some cost-saving changes in Medicaid, but will need federal approval to realize more savings.

On school finance, they are working in a special session to pass a bill to allow $4 billion less through the next two years than required under current funding formulas.

(snip)
Gov. Rick Perry, discussed as a possible presidential contender, stood firmly against anything that could be construed as new taxes, as he did when the state last confronted a big shortfall in 2003.

House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, said similarly, “I think the message from the November elections was, ‘Don’t raise taxes in a recession and do what you can to make appropriate cuts in the budget.’ ”

Straus indicated the House will take a close look at state revenue and taxes before lawmakers reconvene in 2013.

He also wants lawmakers to see results from the state comptroller’s audits of the largest payers under the business tax. The 2006 tax change was intended as a net reduction, but the business tax is bringing in about $2 billion less a year than initially forecast.

That makes the tax reduction bigger and adds to what some call a “structural deficit” – a recurring gap between the state assuming a bigger share of school funding and the taxes meant to help support that obligation.

The state being held up as an example for the rest of the nation is an unmitigated disaster.

The methods of Gov. Perry are those that failed the country continually since the Clinton surplus, which was the reason originally given for cutting taxes.   Of course, the surplus disappeared, but the method of cutting more taxes stayed in despite its justification having taken a deep dive.

The economy has never recovered from the profligacy of the corporate welfare crowd, and it won’t recover until balance that assigns responsibility to business interests as well as to consumers finally rears its fiscally responsible hear.   Calling tax cuts, and deregulation, ‘fiscally responsible’ doesn’t change the facts, these are sure death to the economy, and have proved to be that sure death for over a decade. Read the rest of this entry →

Perry Wrong as Usual; Union Label Not Road to Ruin

9:38 am in Uncategorized by Ruth Calvo

Saturday in Madison -(Picture courtesy of feral liberal, friend and demonstrator for workers' rights.)


Lately we’ve heard a lot of triumphant pronouncements from the cadre of states where anti-collective bargaining bills have been thrown at workers’ rights.  From Texas, Rick Perry performs his usual song and dance about having Right to Work laws that make his state one where workers can go to the end of the line.   Of course, the advantages of having anti-union policies in place for his cronies are all in his head, and his pocketbook.

Perry often says that Texas is the envy of the nation, but on many fronts, it doesn’t measure up well against Wisconsin and more-unionized states. Start with the most pressing issue of the day, the budget gap.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, Wisconsin faces a $1.8 billion shortfall in fiscal 2012, equal to almost 13 percent of its current budget. Texas is $13.4 billion short for the next fiscal year, more than 31 percent of its current budget.

Even the much-maligned federal government has a shortfall of just 20 percent, the center reports.

As a percentage of current spending, only three states are in worse shape than Texas — New Jersey, Illinois and Nevada. Even California is slightly better off. Those four states are all among the top 10 in union penetration, while Texas is 10th from the bottom for 2010.

(snip)

In Wisconsin, the median income is $51,763, which is higher than the U.S. median and almost 10 percent higher than in Texas. In many other categories, including SAT scores, Wisconsin performs much better than the national average, while Texas tends to lag behind it.

One of the biggest differences is in healthcare: In Wisconsin, 57 percent of workers get health insurance through their employer, compared with 44 percent here. Texas also has the dubious distinction — and significant expense — of having the largest uninsured population in the country: 26 percent of Texans have no health insurance at all, compared with 10 percent in Wisconsin.
There is one thing the states that are trying to cut into workers’ rights all have in common.  They have turned into right wing enclaves where the public interest is perceived as a threat to business.
That the promotion of corporate welfare along with reductions in wages and benefits for workers has decimated our consumer economy is a fact lost on the anti-union wingnuts.   That our economy can only be harmed by further reducing jobs and wages will no doubt come as a surprise as their enmity to the public plays out over the coming fiscal crises they are creating.  These are the same ideologists who insist that ‘no one could have predicted’ that giving tax breaks to corporations for sending jobs off our shores would be a detriment to the prosperity they claim to pursue.

States’ Rights to Debt

7:20 am in Government, Health care, State Government by Ruth Calvo

photo: jmtimages via Flickr

Increasingly spectacular in his public pronouncements as the right strays ever farther from rational thought, Texas’ governor Perry has moved from suggesting he wants to secede to a threat to cut medicaid off from the state’s needy.   There actually has been study of the prospect authorized by the legislature.  Predictably,  it discovered a few problems, like most of us would.  While decent human beings would choose not to condemn poor folks to death, the study finds that the losses to medical facilities would be really fierce.

Up to 2.6 million Texans — many of them children — could become uninsured. And hospitals would still be required by federal law to treat medical emergencies, potentially adding billions of dollars in annual uncompensated care costs funded at the local level. Meanwhile, Texans would continue to pay federal taxes to support other states’ Medicaid spending, the report notes.

Texas would “lose billions each year in federal funds; billions of dollars in indigent health care costs would shift from the state and federal levels to local governments, public hospital districts, medical providers, and the privately insured; and 2.6 million Texas residents could lose health insurance,” the report states.

Still, the escalating Medicaid costs facing the state — up 170 percent in the last 11 years, and accounting for a quarter of the state budget — have far exceeded the growth in state tax revenue, inflation and population, and are unsustainable, the report notes. The HHSC report says the best solution is for the federal government to give states greater responsibility over program costs

Naturally, this report finds that the unsustainable health crisis individuals would face would be terrible – for the taxpayer and the medical community.

The U.S. being the only ‘advanced’ nation that submits to a for-profit medical system is not addressed by this report.   That our citizens are only a fall away from destitution doesn’t worry the Texas lege.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →

Waltzing Across Texas

3:33 pm in 2010 election, Economy, Elections, Government, Politics, Republican Party, State Government by Ruth Calvo

photo: Charles Henry via Flickr

[Ed. note: Be sure to note the sizable deficit in Texas noted earlier today by diarist SocraticGadfly.]

The day before the election was an interesting time to drive from just a few miles short of the border with Oklahoma to just above the Big Bend, which rests along the Rio Grande and across the river from Mexico.  In my area, there are very many signs for Bill White for Governor.

When I got about 200 miles south of Fort Worth, I began to see the first signs for Rick Perry.  They were attached to businesses, with a very few actually in yards of houses.   For the entire trip, I may have seen ten Perry signs.  I continued to see signs supporting Bill White all the way.

The ads on television, of course, are non-stop.  Newspaper endorsements, like yard signs, though seem to have heard Bill White’s arguments and found them solid.  He has all the endorsements except the Waco paper.

The lack of real public support for Perry is hardly surprising,  as his connections with lobbyists and use of the taxpayers’ funds for his friends’ businesses is quite remarkable.  Several newspapers cited the use of business incentive funds for his friends’ businesses in their choice of Bill White.

The results of tomorrow’s elections should favor Bill White.  It will not be public votes for the incumbent governor that put him over if Perry wins.

Texas has a protocol for its roads that applies here.   When a driver finds another coming up at a speed exceeding his/her own, it is expected that the leading driver step aside by using the lane northeasterners consider the Parking Lane.  Out here, it’s wide enough for a car to pull onto to let others by.  Time for Perry to pull over and let the public elect a governor of their choice.

Today is November 1, the Day of the Dead.  A dead candidacy should leave now, and let the public be served.

Perry Passin’ Em off at the Head

3:00 pm in Uncategorized by Ruth Calvo

Down in the Loan Star State, the governor got a big boost in his latest run for office by proclaiming that states’ rights were his bailiwick and the federal takeover of the sorts of thieves that were stealing us blind was nothing but socialistikness running amuck. Now the EPA has given him another way to defy laws that protect the public, by refusing to allow Koch Industries to continue polluting the air against federal laws. You probably guessed by now the Gov. Perry gets boodles of campaign cash from the polluters, most especially Koch?

As soon as the Obama Administration came into power, the EPA began warning Texas that its "flexible" approach was not in compliance with federal law. The first shot in the battle was fired on May 25, when the EPA stepped in and said it would determine if an operating permit should be granted for the Flint Hills Resources refinery in Corpus Christi. The refinery is owned by Koch Industries, the Kansas-based consortium whose political action committee has funded several conservative causes. The Koch family gave Perry $50,000 for his campaign fight with Hutchison.

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