I have two things to say about this.
Looking to get an early start on shaping budget discussions for the 2013 legislative session, the Texans for a Conservative Budget Coalition recommended Tuesday that lawmakers plan to reduce welfare spending, increase local control for public school districts, and consolidate or eliminate general revenue spending for several state agencies.
“The roadmap is very clear,” said Julie Drenner of the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank and member of the coalition. “Government must prioritize spending on essential government functions only. When lawmakers look at questions, they must ask themselves only two questions: Do I reform it, or do I eliminate it?”
The coalition’s other members include the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility and the Texas chapter of Americans for Prosperity.
State Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, D-San Antonio, said the coalition’s proposals would damage the state.
“This proposed policy-making agenda is a pending disaster in this state for women and men of all ages, including college students, minimum-wage workers, public schools, educators, and public servants,” she said. “We cannot expect to undercut essential state programs … and still expect Texas to thrive in the future.”
The coalition began during the 2011 legislative session and is based on the tenets that the Legislature should not raise taxes, increase spending or balance the budget using the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund, or “Rainy Day” Fund.
It has reconvened now to address issues that are likely to develop as lawmakers create the 2014-15 state budget.
“The message we want to send with the revival of this coalition is, ‘That wasn’t the end,’” Joshua Treviño, the TPPF’s spokesman, said of the budget reductions in the 2011 session. “That was just a good start.”
1. This is basically the Paul Ryan Budget Plan for Texas. Protect a few things that the rich and powerful like, ensure those folks have to pay as little as possible, and cut the hell out of everything else. It has nothing to do with “priorities” or needs or anything else except lowering taxes for those who least like paying them. I guarantee you, every spending cut these guys would propose will be accompanied by an even larger revenue cut that will ensure the need for more of the same in the next budget. The goal is to exempt themselves from paying for anything.
2. Every Democrat needs to be talking about this. If it’s an election issue nationally (and it is), it’s an election issue here as well. According to Robert Miller, House Speaker Joe Straus is out there talking about “his priorities for the upcoming session as education, transportation infrastructure, water and positioning Texas for continued economic success while meeting the needs of a growing state” and that “Texas is a center-right state, it is not a far right state”. That’s not compatible with what these guys are saying, so either Straus doesn’t mean it, or these guys will attack him as a threat to their vision. Oh, wait, they already are. Straus may hold them off for now, but they’re not going to go away, and they are the direction the GOP is going. This is what Democrats need to be talking about. If the Republicans get into a high profile intra-party fight about it, so much the better, but it’s on us to make the case that they’re doing it wrong and we’re the better choice. A statement from Rep. Mike Villarreal that came out after this story appeared is beneath the fold, and EoW has more.
Following the announcement by right-wing groups that they will push for deeper education cuts during the next legislative session, Representative Mike Villarreal, pictured below, urged Texans to fight back at the Save Texas Schools Rally this Saturday at the Capitol.
“This is yet another sign that the Republican party has been hijacked by extremists who want to defund our children’s schools,” said Rep. Villarreal. “The right-wing ideology groups that control the Republican Party are now advocating for even more cuts to education. They will get their way unless everyday citizens stand up and demonstrate their opposition in public and at the voting booth.”
Yesterday the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility and other right-wing groups with close ties to Republican policymakers announced a “Real Texas Budget Solutions” plan that calls for deeper cuts in education and other essential services.
On Saturday, March 24th, thousands of Texans are expected at the Save Texas Schools rally that begins at noon at the State Capitol. The goal of the rally is to restore support in the legislature for public education and call for an end of the overemphasis on standardized tests. More information on the rally is available at savetxschools.org.
During the last legislative session Governor Perry and Republican legislators passed a budget cutting public education by $5 billion. Largely in response to the cuts, districts have increased class sizes in more than 8,000 classrooms and eliminated teachers in Gifted and Talented, Special Education, core academic subjects, and other areas.