Keep your eye on Texas

by David Safier

I've heard lots of predictions that Texas' budget is going to be looking worse and worse as the year goes on. The state's budget woes were off everyone's radar last year because the legislature only meets every other year, so it wasn't going through public budget battles. When everyone else was flailing around financially, Texas looked like a conservative success story.

Gail Collins details some of the state's education problems in a NY Times op ed today. How bad is it? Barbara Bush wrote a piece in the Houston Chronicle, “We Can’t Afford to Cut Education," because the legislature plans two year ed cuts totalling $4.87 billion.

Mrs. Bush pointed out that students in Texas currently rank 47th in the nation in literacy, 49th in verbal SAT scores and 46th in math scores.

Our entire test-based educational system ushered in by No Child Left Behind is based on the "success" of the testing program in Texas when George W. was governor. Worked out pretty well for them, didn't it?

According to Collins, Gov. Perry decided not to accept $830 million in federal aid to education because — wait for it — he would have to use it for education.

You may not be surprised to hear that Governor Perry has rejected new taxes. He’s also currently refusing $830 million in federal aid to education because the Democratic members of Congress from Texas — ticked off because Perry used $3.2 billion in stimulus dollars for schools to plug other holes in his budget — put in special language requiring that this time Texas actually use the money for the kids.

If you want some fun, read the delightful passages about Perry's defense of abstinence only sex education. He has no data to show it's effective, but he said, “I’m just going to tell you from my own personal life. Abstinence works.”

0 responses to “Keep your eye on Texas

  1. Bush used the false, cooked numbers generated by Houston schools superintendent Rod Paige as a campaign talking point to help him win the presidential election in 2000, then he hired Paige as the Secretary of Education for the whole United States.

    I am sure people at Enron studied how Paige cooked the books in Houston. Flim-Flam masterpiece. When your stats go from 26% passing the 10th grade Math test to 99% passing, people started examining the numbers — everybody from Washington Post to 60 minutes. Absolutely amazing thing is that Rod Paige kept his job for four years — the whole Bush first term. Bush never fired him, even after it became widespread public knowledge that the “Texas Miracle” was was really a Texas cowpie, all hat and no cattle. It was fake, false, phony, through and through.

    The Texas economy success story has always been a mirage too. When the numbers are examined closely, it too is all hat and no cattle. A quick look at the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that since 2007, Texas’s per-capita GDP has shrunk by $11. For contrast, look at the bluest of the blue states: in Massachusetts, it’s grown by $700. And when I look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, I find that most sectors of the labor force in Texas saw a decline in jobs – mining, construction, manufacturing, financial, information, trade, transportation, utilities. Two saw an increase: Education/Health Services (+3.9%) and Government (+1.8%).

    So no matter what Rick Perry blathers about, the facts show the government is responsible for the jobs created in Texas the last 24 months. The facts just don’t coincide with the story that has been created about the Texas Economy, which is extremely low taxes and no regulations spur the economy to run on all cylinders. That’s obviuolsy more flim-flam, more of a Texas Tall Tale than reality, because Alabama, Mississippi, Nevada and some other states have also tried low taxes and no regulation and their economies have not responded. No, Texas has low income, high poverty, poor schools and low quality of life, few if any social services for the poor. And they are broke. The truth has been hid underneath Rick Perry’s hat and people have been fed a story. Seems like they have a long tradition of tall tales in Texas.