If you haven’t voted yet, please read Bob Garrett’s Dallas Morning News article linked at the bottom of this post. It makes clearer than anything else I have read so far that thousands of school teachers and other public employees WILL lose their jobs if Gov. Rick Perry and the current legislative leadership are still in charge when the Legislature tackles the huge revenue shortfall next year.
Despite Perry’s best efforts to downplay the severity of the crisis, experts now say the shortfall could be as high as $25 billion. And with Perry flatly ruling out any tax increase, experts say a hole that huge – even after tapping into the state’s Rainy Day fund simply can’t be closed without laying off “hundreds if not thousands of state workers and public university employees.”
They also warn that state funding of the public schools also will likely be cut, along with the jobs of many teachers and other public education employees. Don’t take my word for this. Read the article by one of the Capitol press corps’ more capable and budgetsavvy reporters.
Meanwhile, university tuition is likely to be raised again, student financial aid cut and who knows what may happen to health care premiums and benefits for teachers and other public workers who don’t lose their jobs.
Perry may not be solely responsible for the crisis, but he certainly has contributed to the problem with shortsighted policies designed to win his multiple reelections rather than put Texas on a sound financial track. During his last reelection campaign four years ago, he came up with a scheme to cut school property taxes without fully paying for them. That illadvised plan has been a disaster for school district budgets and, as the Dallas News article points out, is contributing to the state’s fiscal crisis now.
Ultimately, the buck stops in the governor’s office, and Perry has been there for 10 years, distinguished mostly for political favors to wealthy contributors and redmeat overtures to conservative extremists.
Now, in the midst of a major crisis, Perry’s simpleton answer is to cut, cut, cut and the budgetary problem – which he claims is overblown – will go away. Remember how Perry has bragged that Texas is better off than most other states, especially California? Well, folks, this article points out that Texas’ anticipated budgetary gap “is now proportionately larger than the deficit that California recently closed.”
Perry, who has boycotted newspaper editorial board interviews because he doesn’t want to answer tough budgetary questions, will continue to dance around the issue, bragging about the necessity of creating jobs and a favorable economic climate. The sad truth, however, is that highpaying jobs soon will disappear from our state without a realistic budgetary policy that includes an adequate and balanced revenue stream for our public schools, statesupported universities and other critical public programs.
Perry’s governorship has become a disaster. The only way to begin recovering from this disaster is with new leadership in the governor’s office, backed by state legislators willing to put stewardship ahead of demagoguery.