Texas, the uber business friendly,a low tax libertarian leaning nirvana with the stingiest nano sized government in the U.S. is quite frankly flat out busted. Ten years of Rick Perry and the Texas Republican Party's uncompromising and unyielding fiscal conservative policies delivers a big fat flop. And now Texas will have to undergo a painful root canal job. Without any pain medication.
Rick Perry makes no apologies for the misery he will inflict. In fact the Governor refuses to acknowledge his $30 rotten egg.
The Economist published a reality check about the outcome of Texas conservative fiscal policies in one of its July issues. Paul Krugman of the New York Times did the same recently:
A Smoke and Mirrors Economy
What about the budget? The truth is that the Texas state government has relied for years on smoke and mirrors to create the illusion of sound finances in the face of a serious "structural" budget deficit — that is, a deficit that persists even when the economy is doing well. When the recession struck, hitting revenue in Texas just as it did everywhere else, that illusion was bound to collapse.
The only thing that let Gov. Rick Perry get away, temporarily, with claims of a surplus was the fact that Texas enacts budgets only once every two years, and the last budget was put in place before the depth of the economic downturn was clear. Now the next budget must be passed — and Texas may have a $25 billion hole to fill. Now what?
Given the complete dominance of conservative ideology in Texas politics, tax increases are out of the question. So it has to be spending cuts.
Yet Mr. Perry wasn’t lying about those "tough conservative decisions": Texas has indeed taken a hard, you might say brutal, line toward its most vulnerable citizens. Among the states, Texas ranks near the bottom in education spending per pupil, while leading the nation in the percentage of residents without health insurance. It’s hard to imagine what will happen if the state tries to eliminate its huge deficit purely through further cuts.
I don’t know how the mess in Texas will end up being resolved. But the signs don’t look good, either for the state or for the nation.
How will the mess in Texas end up? Quite brutally, unfortunately. This is the outcome of economic policies that are business friendly to a fault and one in which average everyday people have few safety nets to fall back on when times are tough.
I guess we should expect the misery we vote or fail to vote for.
Meaner and Meaner GOP Economics.
We can read about the $30 billion budget hole everyday in our cities newspapers Perry's priorities tell tale of Texas, and Schools shudder at cuts. We can read about the $30 billion bone breaking to come on Texas online news sources as well. Texas budget cuts pack a wallop for students, elderly, and the ill. And check out this fine tidbit on the colossal failure of Rick Perry's black magic voodoo policies here. Voters despise taxes and soon budget cuts. You betcha we are going to hate those budget cuts. Elections have consequences. Voters exchanged low taxes for deep budget cuts and many will be very angry when the budgets are slashed. Politicians haven't been exactly up front in honestly informing voters about the significance of the choices they would make at the ballot box. Instead Rick Perry ran around the state threatening absurd nonsense like secession and exploding bombs in El Paso (a whopping lie). Instead of addressing the forthcoming budget challenges the Governor railed against the federal government, bail outs (while taking federal stimulus money to plug his budget hole) and Obamacare (most of which were blatant lies).
And so now we are going to cut, baby, cut.
When warned in 2006 about the impending disaster of their smoke and mirrors economics Governor Perry and Lt. Gov. Dewhurst thumbed their noses at the messenger. They had elections to win, after all.
When push comes to shove one can always count on Texas Republican lawmakers to throw children, schools, students, the ill, the elderly and the poor into the streets, if need be, to save a penny. But hey, business is good, taxes are low and there is no debt.
Except that there is the inconvenience of the stench spewing from a bloated mound of elephant dirt that even the finest of French perfumes is unable to conceal. Rick Perry can pretend
that he did not leave a pile of dirt for Texans to clean up. He will say his elephant dirt does not exist. Or he'll try to say his dirt is really gold and a bunch of whiners are bellyaching about nothing.
Ten thousand state employees will lose their jobs if Republican meaner than rattlesnakes policies prevail. Think about it. In the worst economic recession since the 1930's The Texas Rattlesnakes are willing to fire 10,000 state workers in order to impose yet more suffering and pain on struggling families. Not to mention the lay-offs mean another 10,000 jobless will be drawing unemployment insurance.
There are times in which I write diaries about Rick Perry that I feel the urge to pinch myself to make sure that I am not asleep. I must be having a nightmare. Surely this cannot be happening. If Republican lawmakers get any meaner they'll start making global tyrants look good.
But the fact is there's a shortage of high-dollar waste and corruption in Texas. The best evidence of that is that Texas, pound for pound, has one of the smallest governments in the nation.
Rick Perry's ultimate goal must be no government at all. Will Texas become the first U.S. Republican state of another Somalia? If this is the case I suppose jobless workers could always earn a living by resorting to piracy in the Houston Ship Channel.
The latest U.S. Census figures I could find, 2005, ranked Texas 49th among the states for per capita state and local taxes, at $1,434. That's more than one-third less than the national average.
The only state lower, $3.70 lower, was North Dakota. But that was before the Legislature cut our school property tax by nearly a third, substituting a bizarre business tax that doesn't come close to making up the difference. So it is almost certain we now have the leanest state government in the nation.
So where to cut? Schools are an obvious starting point. They are the largest single expense. The National Association of State Budget Officers says Texas spends 31 percent of its its budget on public schools, the highest in the nation. The average state spends 22 percent.
But that's 31 percent of a smaller pie than other states have, so Texas ranks 42nd in its per capita spending on schools. We could head down toward 50th, but suburban parents, many of them independents, will be unhappy.
Shifting the burdens
Medicaid is considered a good target, with some legislators even calling for withdrawing from the program. But Texas spends only 7.5 percent of its total budget on Medicaid. Only Wyoming is lower at 7.3 percent. The national average is 21.8 percent of the states' budgets.
Cutting state Medicaid funding will mean less in federal grants, while sending poor people from doctor's offices into the vastly more expensive emergency rooms for treatment. The tax burden will simply shift to the counties.
Highway funding? The state's highway fund is already depleted. The tax on gasoline has stayed at 20 cents a gallon since 1991, but a nickel goes to public schools.
Texas, already one of the stingiest states when it comes to Medicaid will bring the meaning of stingy to a new level. When his budget is enacted voters should nominate Rick Perry for the 2011 The Stingiest Contemporary Scrooge contest. The Governor would join distinguished winners such as:
The winner will join an infamous group. Past winners of this dubious honor include: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, WalMart, and George W. Bush. Last year, internet voters singled out the Chamber of Commerce for its narrow, radical agenda advocating anti-worker, profit-focused solutions to the nation's broken healthcare, labor and environmental systems. In 2008, voters picked the entire lot of Wall Street executives whose unchecked corporate greed led to our nation’s economic disaster. This year, an entire industry is included among the top candidates!
Thus far, this year's nominees are:
• Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
• Express Scripts
• Hyatt Hotels
• Rite Aid
• Giumarra Vineyards
• Health Insurance & Pharmaceutical Industry
...or your own Write-In candidate!
I have no doubt that Rick Perry would be proud to join his soulmates above.
I have read reports about our forthcoming bone breaking cuts in my Houston neighborhood Civic Club's monthly newsletter, too. The news is grim for the tentacles of Rick Perry's miserable and miserly fiscal policies will reach deeply and pervasively into every neighborhood in the state. In November the majority of voters in Houston knew we had to do something about the infrastructure in our city and even those who suffer from acute and chronic tax aversion disorder voted to pay a fee to improve the city's roads and the drainage systems.
Texans have caught more than a faint whiff of the stench that is about to be dumped unceremoniously onto the state by the Governor's self-serving and mean-spirited fiscal ideology.
It is no wonder that Rick Perry and his Republican colleagues remain curiously silent about the rotten egg they are about to lay.
During his Inaugural speech Rick Perry alluded to a Texas Century. Did the Governor mean a century of third world misery?
He called on Texans to show the rest of the country how conservative governing and budgeting can help lead the way out of this national economic crisis.
This, declared the governor, will some day come to be known by historians as the "Texas Century."
"This is our time, this is our place in history," according to the governor's speech. "We must seize the moment."
Only a completely out of touch Governor who lives in an alternative universe could make such absurd and heartless statements on the eve of his ripping economic safety nets out from under children, the elderly, schools, social programs, students, the poor and the sick.
In Rick Perry's bubble world seizing the moment means Rick Perry and his Republican colleagues should avoid all talk about a deficit of any sort. If they don't talk about it, the GOP delivered rotten egg does not exist. Their spin doctors must assure Republicans that they will continue to get elected if they ignore their evil doings and screw ups. And when they can't ignore them they are urged to change the subject or lie.
I guess this is why there is a boatload of smoke, mirrors and hot air blowing out of Austin about a cynical, uncalled for and completely unnecessary Voter ID bill.
Let's see what the Voter ID legislation will do to plug the budget nighmare and save state jobs.
If the bill becomes law, it will cost about $2 million to implement — at a time when we’re watching every penny. No problem, says Dewhurst. We could get a federal grant to foot the bill.
From the same feds, we assume, who spend like drunken sailors and interfere in our state business.
This is a hasty, mean-spirited bill that could cause far more problems than it solves. We urge the Justice Department to give it their full attention.
The meaning of mean on steroids.
Leave it to the balloon heads in Austin to muck it up. They are about to ram through a bill that likely won't hold muster in a federal court. The GOP will spend $2 million that we don't have in order to implement a dumb and mean bill. Of course there will be heaven only knows how much wasteful spending for legal fees to fight for the stupid and mean-spirited bill in the courts. And when the GOP loses the ridiculous case it will have to beg the feds to bail them out again to undo its nasty idiocy.
What else can one expect from a Governor and a party that has the humanity of a rattlesnake and the integrity of a gambler who can't stay on the wagon?