Apr 9, 2011
Apr 3, 2011
News from the Capitol: Budget Debate Continues, Freshmen’s Stand Down, Votes Against Funding Education and more...
Budget Debate Part Deux
Budget debate continues today at 4pm, we've seen very little activity from the freshman members outside a handful, even though they comprise 31 new members. Guess they aren’t here to participate in the process just do what they are told. You can watch the floor debate in the House Chambers and check votes.
At this point, the Governor continues to threaten any budget that uses the Rainy Day Fund. As proposed, the 2012-13 budget statutorily underfunds schools by over $7.8 billion, eliminates scholarships and grants for all incoming freshmen, and reduces funding for services provided to children in abusive homes.
Fighting For Our Most Vulnerable: Budget Cuts Risk Further Lawsuits
Over two years ago, systematic problems leading to inadequate care and abuse were found in the state supported living centers, formerly known as state schools, which provide care to individuals with disabilities. The abuses found at the Corpus Christi State School reached national headlines when videos were found forcing residents into “fight club” style altercations at the facility.
The proposed budget cuts are calling to close at least one of the facilities charged with caring for individuals with disabilities. In light of systematic deficiencies at abuse at the facilities, major overhauls were done to improve the delivery of care. State officials fear these backward cuts which will hurt the improvements made over the last couple of years and will but the state back in jeopardy of lawsuits with the Department of Justice.
Freshmen Legislators Only Take Orders
Anyone paying attention to Austin during the 82nd Legislative Session, may be thinking what happened to the Tea Party activists’ candidates who were suppose to go to Austin to change things. Well, they have been told to stand down just in case they say anything less than campaign friendly. Some of their bread and butter issues have come to the floor including anti-abortion and Voter ID legislation with little more than a peep from freshmen. Well besides, when they asked their new Hispanic members to defend the legislation upon passage. Guess they aren’t here to “change” things after all.... just to get reelected. Good luck next time on finding more Republican candidates, Tea Party.
Feb 23, 2011
Continuing my coverage on the education crises in Texas, let’s take a closer look how one school district is handling the budget crunch. As you know, I have been following how my old school district is coping with the $9.8 billion target in education cuts set by the governor. Just recently, South San Antonio Independent School District (SSAISD) set their own budgetary goals by proposing to cut $4.8 million from the district’s budget. Last week, a highly anticipated school board meeting convened where nearly 175 weary district employees gathered to hear the latest budget updates. Anxiety grew to outrage as some attendees were escorted from the meeting. However, the board meeting ended differently than expected. Board president Connie Prado denied the existence of a jobs 'hit list' and some quoted Superintendent Ron Durbon as saying no jobs will be lost in the school district.
Though no job losses is the best possible outcome, I am concerned about the possible solutions or the lack there of. Instead of eliminating 15 teaching positions as recommended, where do the budget savings come from? On the flip side, will officials keep their pledge to maintain jobs?
Don’t for a minute think this article questions the validity of statements from elected officials (grin). I’m just pointing to the elephant in the room. Like most of you, I’m anxious to see a budgetary plan that keeps jobs, so that we can see integrity in our school board. Employees, parents, and students deserve that much.
Feb 10, 2011
Not to get all Genesis but do you remember when Noah was like “there’s going to be a flood,” and the town’s people were like “whateves.” Well that’s kind of like Republicans and the state budget. The “flood” is of course the state’s budget deficit and its cuts to education and health care. Governor Perry and friends can play the towns folk. Anyway, Perry has made few remarks about the size and how to solve the state’s deficit. However, just this week the governor made clear what his prize cows were, his precious Enterprise Fund or slush fund to attract businesses, and the $9 billion dollar Rainy Day Fund. In his State of the State remarks, Perry reminded the legislature not to touch the fund unless they wish to jeopardize Texas’ future. (BTW I suggest you read the entire transcript then watch the rebuttal from Democrats.)
That approach would not only postpone tough, necessary decisions, but also leave us ill-equipped to handle bigger emergencies in the future. Therefore, we must protect the Rainy Day Fund. – Governor Perry
Well Mr. Governor is it raining yet? According to some estimates released last week, Nursing homes for the elderly stand to lose millions in state and federal matching funds due to cuts in Medicaid. On top of health care cuts, schools across Texas are preparing for major cuts in state funds. At my old high school, South San Antonio ISD will be cutting 4.8 million over the next year alone. This story is repeated across the state. In Corpus Christi, CCISD and Del Mar College are also preparing for deep cuts. It’s short sighted to assume solving our budgetary woes means increasing class sizes and minimizing special programs already struggling to provide adequate education for all. Closing nursing homes and ill preparing students for the future are emergencies no matter how you look at our current predicament. Now I am not advocating for spending the entire fund but rather pushing legislators to use it in a manner that helps educators and health care professionals endure the storm.
Jan 24, 2011
"The Ouroboros or Uroborus is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail.
Like clock work, Democrats have solidified their opposition to this 'slash and burn' approach to public spending, especially in South Texas. No surprise there either.
But very few people foresaw the extent of the coming divide amongst Republican law makers, or what the Burka Blog calls the "Three Party House": Democrats, Republicans, and the Tea Party.
That's right, Republicans are turning on themselves in an effort to save face among their constituency and reestablish a sense of civility amidst the pull of the Tea Party, especially concerning the cuts to education.
Upon the announcement that a community college in his district would be shut down, Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R) told the Houston Chronicle: "This is not a reasonable budget in regard to Brazosport College...It’s ridiculous.".
Former Lieutenant Governor and Republican leader Bill Ratliff raised his concerns about the cuts to education spending in an interview with the Dallas Morning News, saying: "We’re talking about major increases in class size, major layoffs of the teacher corps. Draconian is a mild word for that,"
South Texas Republicans are voicing their opposition and concern to the proposed cuts. Valley Republican Aaron Peña was among the first, telling KURV Radio’s Daily Report with Colonel Ray “I don’t agree with it. I said that from the moment I read the budget. We are still dissecting it and it’s getting worse and worse.” In the words of the famous John McClane: Welcome to the Party pal.
"If they stand, they will be very devastating to the school," Texas A&M Corpus Christi President Flavius Killebrew told the Caller Times. Killebrew is well established a Republican leader in the Coastal Bend area.
Both State Rep. Connie Scott (R) and State Rep. Raul Torres (R) have voiced their concerns about the 'slash and burn' method of their peers, especially over the education cuts. Education was a top priority for Scott during her campaign and Raul Torres was quick to console Mark Escamilla, President of Del Mar College (a community college in his district), after the closing of 4 other community colleges around the state was proposed.
Democrats will still have a fight on their hands concerning solid Republican issues, such as the proposed 'voter ID' bills (declared an 'Emergency Issue' by our out-of-state Governor). But, in the mean time, it seems like Texas Democrats need only sit back and watch the GOP devour itself like the Ouroboros.