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Cuts here mean hikes there

The only problem with this AP story is the headline, “Texas budget cuts may shift burden to locals”. There’s no “may” about it – the Pitts budget would absolutely shift a huge burden to local governments.

Cuts set off a domino effect: Historically, public schools raise property taxes when the state education agency sends smaller checks. Cities and counties have to pick up the bill when the sick go to the emergency room because fewer doctors accept Medicaid. And when the mentally ill don’t receive treatment, local law enforcement often steps in.

Texans pay for these services in one of two ways. Local authorities collect property taxes, and 64 percent of the state budget comes from sales taxes. Less spending during the recession has meant reduced state revenues. The state also collects a business tax, but that has never produced as much revenue as lawmakers predicted, [Sherri Greenberg, interim director of the Center for Politics and Governance at the LBJ School for Public Affairs in Austin] said.

The draft budget assumes no new taxes and over the next two years takes $9.8 billion away from schools and could cost 100,000 school district jobs, according to Moak, Casey & Associates, a school finance consulting firm that analyzed the budget. This at a time when Texas schools is projected to add 160,000 new students, according to census figures. The Houston Independent School District alone could lose $348 million in financing, something that could result in teacher layoffs.

As the story notes, HISD is one of several school districts that has the option to rate property taxes by as much as three cents without putting it to a vote. Does anyone doubt that this is what they’ll do if faced with this big a loss of revenue? When that happens, remember that it was Rick Perry and his policies that made it happen.

Parkland Health and Hospital System is one of the largest public hospitals in Texas, treating more than 93,000 low-income patients who depend on the program each year. Ron Anderson, the CEO, said state cuts in health care merely shift the costs to counties and hospital districts, which rely on local property taxes. Parkland relies on medical school faculty and students to provide services, so cuts to the higher education budget will compound the cuts to the health budget, costing millions in local taxes.

“Sometimes you think you’re saving money with one budget, but your actually transferring the costs to somebody else and the costs might actually be higher,” Anderson said. “The taxpayers who pay these bills are actually the same taxpayers.”

Texas ranks 49th in the nation in per capita spending on mental health programs, and the draft budget would cut spending by 40 percent. When mentally ill people can’t get the help they need, they often end up in jail or worse, said Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia.

“Officers and the mentally ill will be having confrontations that will result in arrests, tazings and, regretfully, even shootings,” Garcia said. “That should not be the way that families or individuals resolve their mental health issues, but that’s generally how it works because there is a lack of service.”

The state has responsibilities. The cuts that are being proposed represent a complete abdication of those responsibilities. We can pay now or we can pay later, but one way or another we’re going to pay.

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5 Comments

  1. texaschick says:

    Based upon this non-partisan report, Texas children have already been paying.

    New study finds dire reality for children
    Nonpartisan group looked at factors including abuse.
    By Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje
    mstoeltje@express-news.net
    Published: 11:47 p.m., Tuesday, January 25, 2011

    “When it comes to providing a range of crucial services to children, Texas ranks dead last among all the states, according to a new report released by a nonpartisan, nonprofit group in Austin.

    Texans Care for Children, a child-advocacy agency, used demographic forecasts along with national and state data to come to some dire conclusions, among them:

    Texas ranks 50th among states in providing health care coverage and mental health services to children. It comes in last in preventing childhood homelessness, childhood food insecurity and obesity among adolescent girls.

    The state has the most fatalities from child abuse and neglect and ranks last in per capita spending on child-abuse prevention.”

    read more here: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/New-study-finds-dire-reality-for-children-977680.php

    Please take the time to read the rest of the above article.

    Now what was that Rick Perry said in his inauguration speech?

    http://www.texastribune.org/texas-state-agencies/governors-office/full-text-of-rick-perrys-inauguration-speech/
    excerpts
    “As Texans, we always take care of the least among us.

    The frail, the young, the elderly on fixed incomes, those in situations of abuse and neglect, people whose needs are greater than the resources at their disposal – they can count on the people of Texas to be there for them.

    We will protect them, support them and empower them, but cannot risk the future of millions of taxpayers in the process. We must cut spending to keep our economic engine on track.”

    Greedy taxpayers/corporations win; children lose. Texas loses long-term but it appears Texans just don’t realize it yet.

  2. jerden says:

    And you think Pitts didn’t know this when he introduced this budget? This state, through its legislature, has always had the nasty habit of placing unfunded mandates onto the shoulders of lower government entities. That this is being done now shows clearly the utteer disdain that those sitting in the capital building in Austin have for the rest of the state. Once a week a Citizens Committee should have the authority to take the one member of state government deemed to be doing a poor job out of her/his cushy state supplied chair, negate his/her election to office, tar and feather her/him/, then ship him/her home on a flat bed trailer in full view of everyone. Why? Just as an example to the rest of them as to what can be done by the PEOPLE of the state.

  3. jerden says:

    Come on, TEXASCHICK! If you want to quote a CREDIBLE organization, go ahead. This one, however, is worse than marginal. If you want to give ALL your money to liberal causes go ahead, just don’t expect the rest of us to be there with you. I would rather see the parents of all the kids you are concerned about doing something, ANYTHING, to help their own kids rather than depend on me and the rest of the tax payers to do it for them.

  4. […] and counties in Texas, Texas budget cuts may shift burden to locals. (Tip to Kuff who says, “There’s no “may” about it“). Conservative lawmakers who dominate Texas politics make their political careers on […]

  5. texaschick says:

    “I would rather see the parents of all the kids you are concerned about doing something, ANYTHING, to help their own kids rather than depend on me and the rest of the tax payers to do it for them.”

    Why do you believe these parents aren’t doing something to help their own kids? Can you cite a source to back up your statement.

    More info regarding children in Texas.

    http://www.sph.uth.tmc.edu/news-and-events/news/2011/01/Lowering-the-Teen-Birth-Rate-in-Texas/

    http://txfoodpolicy.org/poverty101

    http://www.familiesusa.org/resources/publications/reports/deep-in-the-heart-of-texas.html