Paxton trying to remove health care from millions of educators and other Americans

 

The current crop of state leaders gives educators a lot of bad choices on this year’s election ballot, but one of the worst, especially for retired educators and everyone one else who values their health care, is Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Paxton, who was slapped with a criminal indictment for securities fraud shortly after taking office, has spent most of his term as the state’s chief lawyer avoiding a trial and a possible prison sentence. But he has found time to promote policies that are hurtful to educators and other everyday Texans, even as he hypocritically portrays himself as a champion of Christian values.

Perhaps his worst offense though is his effort to deprive millions of Texans and other Americans of middle-class, modest means of basic health care coverage. That is a potential end result of a lawsuit that Paxton has filed, using our tax dollars, against the federal government in still another effort to kill the Affordable Care Act.

The lawsuit, Texas v. Azar, was filed earlier this year by 20 states, and Paxton is the lead lawyer. If the suit is successful, all the protections of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, if you prefer, would be invalidated, including the provision that forbids insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing medical conditions.

If Paxton is successful in destroying that consumer protection, insurance companies could resume their previous practice of charging sick people higher premiums for health coverage or denying them coverage altogether. Older Americans would be hit the hardest, but anybody who had ever suffered a heart attack or suffered from a chronic condition such as diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure or whatever would be affected.

To make matters worse, the Trump administration is refusing to defend the Affordable Care Act against Paxton’s suit.

“It is time that Americans are finally free from the stranglehold of Obamacare, once and for all,” Paxton said when the suit was filed.

Actually, it is time for Texans to be free of the callous piety and anti-family, anti-democratic values of Ken Paxton. Earlier this year, Paxton also misused his office to suggest falsely that it was illegal for educators to support and campaign for candidates for the Legislature and other elected offices.

Paxton is entitled to due process and his day in court, which he continues to avoid. The state of Texas also is entitled to its day in court, and every American is entitled to affordable health care.

The honorable thing for Paxton to do would be to quietly leave office and get his own legal affairs in order. But since he doesn’t plan to do that, since he intends to stay in office on straight-ticket Republican votes, the sensible thing for educators and every other Texan – Democrat, Republican or independent — who values education, health care and other important public services is to show Paxton the door on Election Day.

You can do that by voting for Paxton’s opponent, Justin Nelson. Nelson wants to serve the people of Texas, not make their lives more difficult.

Twenty U.S. states target protections for pre-existing health conditions

Paxton surrenders in securities fraud indictment

 

 

Sen. Don Huffines fears educators, not immigrants

 

Voter registration is up, and state Sen. Don Huffines of Dallas, who has made a political career of attacking public schools and promoting privatization, is worried. He is worried because he knows he has done nothing to generate that much enthusiasm for his re-election, and he has a pro-public education opponent, Nathan Johnson, who is running a very strong campaign against him.

So what does Huffines do? He doesn’t have a legitimate campaign issue. So he borrows a tactic from Donald Trump and lies. He lies about a horde of imaginary undocumented immigrants who have descended upon Dallas and registered to vote. And he calls on a Senate committee to conduct an emergency hearing to help him out by lending a stamp of “authenticity” to his charade.

According to an article on Quorum Report, Huffines said he had heard of “allegations of illegal voting by non-citizens and officials’ failure to adequately respond.”

Baloney.

Undocumented immigrants don’t come to the United States to vote. They come here for economic opportunity or to escape political persecution or crime in their home countries. They want to avoid detection, and trying to vote is a sure-fire way to get caught.

But it is easier for Huffines to promote hysteria and hate against immigrants than it is to defend his own record in the state Senate. Educators should be reminded that it is a record that includes:

# Killing a $1.9 billion increase in public school funding during a special session last year.

# Voting for every private school voucher bill that has come his way.

# Supporting the so-called “bathroom bill” that would have discriminated against vulnerable children in public schools and encouraged bullying.

# Voting for public education budgets that have steadily transferred the lion’s share of school funding to local property taxpayers.

Don Huffines purports to represent state Senate District 16 in Dallas. In truth, he represents an extreme political ideology.

Educators, parents and taxpayers in District 16 who truly care about public schools have a clear choice in this election – Nathan Johnson, an education advocate, school volunteer and community leader. Nathan has been endorsed by TSTA-PAC and, unlike Huffines, isn’t afraid of people voting in large numbers.

 

 

 

Want to lower your property taxes? Don’t vote for Abbott or Patrick

 

Some political promises are predictable…and worthless. Gov. Greg Abbott’s vow, during last weekend’s debate, to provide “relief” for property taxpayers was predictable. It was just as predictable as the fact that he won’t provide a cent of real relief if he is reelected to another term.

Lupe Valdez, the governor’s Democratic opponent, correctly pointed out during the debate that you can’t address the problem of high property taxes without increasing state funding for public schools, which Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and their legislative allies repeatedly have refused to do. And if they are reelected in November, they will continue to profess concern for high property taxes while continuing to under-fund public education.

Texas schools have two main sources of funding – state revenue and local property taxes – and, as I have noted before, the state’s share has been steadily declining under Abbott’s watch. The state’s share of the Foundation School Program is expected to hit a low of 38 percent during this school year, with local property taxpayers paying 62 percent.

If the governor really wanted to provide relief to local taxpayers, he would have demanded that the Legislature increase its share of education funding, but he never has. Just last year, he joined with Patrick to slam the door on a bill approved by the Texas House that would have increased state education funding by $1.9 billion during the current budget period.

Instead, Abbott and Patrick support a phony form of tax “relief” that would put arbitrary restrictions on the ability of local elected officials, including city councils, to raise the revenue their constituents need for essential public services. Those efforts so far have failed, but they will continue if Abbott and Patrick are reelected. Both will continue to pretend to hate the high property taxes that they love to see you have to pay.

Don’t remove Helen and Hillary; remove STAAR from classrooms

 

The latest assault on history by the State Board of Education majority was necessary to give teachers more time to teach, board members say. But there is a much better way to accomplish that goal than by removing Helen Keller, Barry Goldwater or Hillary Clinton from the required curriculum standards. It would be by abolishing the STAAR testing regime or, at least, significantly reducing the amount of time it sucks up from the school day.

I know. The state board isn’t in charge of STAAR testing. The governor and the Legislature are responsible for prolonging that misguided and miserable policy. But if board members really want to give teachers more time to actually teach currculum and not just teach to the test, they should demand that lawmakers drastically reduce the role of STAAR. They could start by writing a letter to the governor and the Legislature.

But despite widespread unhappiness among parents and educators with STAAR, don’t hold your breah that the State Board will take a unified stand against the single biggest curriculum-killer that Texas government has to offer.

Instead, curriculum will continue to be manipulated through a political and ideological lens.

The board at least partially corrected the lie, inserted into the standards in 2010, that slavery was a secondary cause of the Civil War. This time, the board identified slavery as the central cause of the war, but it still promoted the myth that the more-neutral sounding “states’ rights” principal was also to blame. In truth, the only “state right” that provoked secesson was the so-called “right” to own slaves.

Teachers can still teach about Helen Keller, Barry Goldwater and Hillary Clinton. The removal of their names from the standards simply means that teachers won’t be required to include them in their lessons.

In don’t necessarily see partisanship in Helen Keller’s omission, just inexplicability. Keller, who overcame blindness and deafness to publish numerous books, lecture throughout the world and become an inspiration to millions, remains one of the most courageous figures in our nation’s history. Not to teach about her life, her challenges and her accomplishments is a disservice to school children.

I don’t see partisanship in Goldwater’s removal either, although the U.S. senator, Republican presidential nominee and 20th century leader/hero of the conservative movement definitely earned a place in history.

Hillary Clinton’s removal from the curriculum standards, on the other hand, has partisanship written all over it. As the first woman presidential nominee of a major political party, however, her place in history is established, with or without the State Board of Education’s approval.

Carisa Lopez, political director of the Texas Freedom Network, summed up the problem with curriculum decisions in Texas pretty well.

“Once again, we see why politicians rewriting curriculum standards for public schools is just a bad idea,” she said. “You end up with history based on majority vote rather than on facts.”

 

 

 

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