I don’t have any faith that those who need to hear this are listening, but as the 82nd Lege gets gaveled in today, it still needs to be said.
A coalition of progressive organizations from throughout Texas called for “a balanced approach to a balanced budget” at a Capitol press conference Wednesday. The groups’ challenge comes less than a week from the beginning of the legislative session Tuesday.
Members of Texas Forward urged lawmakers to resist steep cuts to education and social services as the Legislature attempts to close a budget shortfall projected as high as $24 billion.
“The cuts coming down the pike are not about cutting the fat; there is no more fat,” said Ana Yanez-Correa, executive director of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. “What we’re looking at is actually cutting into muscle, and this is the muscle that is key to the infrastructure of Texas.”
Organizers called for the Legislature to close the budget gap using all the money from the state’s “rainy day fund,” a sum estimated at $9.6 billion, as well as finding additional revenue sources, maximizing available federal funding and making “carefully considered cuts” to existing services.
Some of the folks in this effort wrote an op-ed in the Statesman outlining their preferred approach in late December. Again, I agree with them entirely, but that ain’t the Lege we’ve got. I hope I’m being needlessly pessimistic, and I’ll be glad to be proven wrong, but I don’t expect that.