Friday, February 03, 2006

Republicans Scheme On School Finance Uncovered

Call it what you will but it's taking from the least among us an giving to the wealthy

What happens when the legislature cuts the budget to the bone by decreasing how much it spends on CHIP and many other social programs like this one that assisted the elderly with their electric bill? Well, low and behold we get a budget surplus. The funny part is the governor - who's been playing politics with the budget and school finance for years - is now accusing one of his opponents of playing politics with the "re-jiggered" budget forecast numbers:
Aides to Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday said they know why: the state's chief budget officer, Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn is playing politics with her duties to help her win the state's top job. Strayhorn is campaigning against Perry as an independent candidate for governor.

"Instead of working in good faith, Carole Strayhorn is playing political games by refusing to give lawmakers and the tax commission up-to-date budget information," said Perry campaign spokesman Robert Black. "It's obvious that Carole Strayhorn would rather feed her political ambition, be an obstacle to reform and use the school finance issue for her own political gain at the expense of Texas school children."
OTG has political ambition? Is that why she keeps switching parties? Back to the issue at hand. It's becoming clear that the plan for the upcoming special session will be to use the surplus created by the Republicans from the backs of the poor, and the least among us, will be used to pay for their scheme to shift taxes off of property. Never mind that renters won't see this reflected in cheaper rent. And never mind that they will still need to come up with a little more money to create the room needed for local discretion. They will then be allowed to forgo raising taxes on business but just raising and/or adding sales taxes - thanks John Sharp. But that too will only hurt the least among us, so what do they care? This is the easy way out and of course the Republicans will take it. Especially with many of them people facing challengers from qualified opposition for the first time in a while, they are scared.

Here's what your elected representatives chose not to fund last year to create this surplus:
Funding for many state programs were left out of the budget by lawmakers, who are restricted by the state constitution from incurring debt. Among them, adequate cost reimbursements for nursing home patient care, operating costs for a Texas Tech medical school being built in El Paso and a pharmacy school being built in Kingsville. Lawmakers also failed to fund textbooks that were due in classrooms this school year. Perry ordered the Texas Education Agency to buy the books anyway, but the agency has not yet been reimbursed almost $300 million for the books.
And here is what the Craddick, Leininger, and their "right-wing" think-tank thinks about all this:
"The Texas economy is doing well, so it's no surprise that there is going to be a surplus," said Michael Quinn Sullivan, vice president of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative Austin think tank. "From our perspective, that's not free money for the government. That's taxpayer money and it should go back to the taxpayer. We would look at that money and say that's a good place to buy down property tax rates."
"Let them eat cake!" Don't forget their goal is a dollar-for-dollar swap on school money. They have no plan to put more money into our embarrassingly underfunded public schools in Texas.

The next part of the scam, that when looked at, keeps looking worse, is the governors non-binding "65% Ruse", '65 percent solution' is pure politics:
IN an earlier column I expressed suspicion of Gov. Rick Perry's executive order requiring school districts to devote 65 percent of the budget to "classroom activities."

Any scheme that considers football coaches essential to education but not librarians — or teacher training -— is silly.

And I wasn't even aware of what my colleague Janet Elliott reported the other day -— that Standard & Poor's has analyzed national data and found no correlation between the 65 percent "classroom" figure and student performance.

Now that I've had time to look at the matter further, I'm no longer suspicious. I'm convinced.
I love the part where the article talks about how the billionaire running this scheme is even crazier than Mark Cuban.

The point is the Republicans only priority is to run a scheme that makes it look like they're doing something when actually all they are doing is making sure that those who pay for their campaigns are protected.

Charles Kuffner did quite a bit of work on this yesterday, Is it raining in the Capitol?


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