According to Austin’s local Fox station (they are using an AP article, I realize), the new proposed budget for Texas will:
include slashing arts education, pre-kindergarten programs and teacher incentive pay as lawmakers take on a massive deficit with the promise of no new taxes.
Because I would hate having to pay taxes in order to keep education! Yay for Texas-style politics! Fuck you, education!
Here is why we are having all these problems:
Texas is facing a $15 billion revenue shortfall, and few corners of state government were spared in the draft proposal for the next two years. The Texas Constitution requires a balanced budget, and Republican leaders have vowed not to raise taxes.
And let me just say, I find it suspicious and, well, fucked-up that Governor Perry acted like Texas was the bastion of fiscal responsibility and the economic survivors of the recession during his gag-inducing reelection campaign this past year. And then just months later, we all find out that he was as wrong as he could be. That he wasn’t our savior. That Texas isn’t doing great. And because of that, we are screwing over education and health care. Because who needs those things? Children? Fuck children. Wait? Is that the wrong message? I’m confused about who the Republicans are helping nowadays. Themselves? People who already have access to money? What a big fucking shocker.
But, before I go all hyperbolic (too late!), let’s be specific.
It would shutter four community colleges and generally eliminate financial aid for incoming freshman and new students. The Texas Grants scholarship program would drop by more than 70,000 students over the next two years. […]
The proposal would make public school finance reform legislation almost inevitable. It also would mean about 100,000 children would no longer have access to pre-kindergarten, schools won’t get help building new science labs and would end a program that helps students earn a promotion to the next grade.
The plan would slash $772 million for Texas colleges and universities, including nearly $100 million for flagship universities Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin. The two-year colleges that would be closed are Brazosport College in Lake Jackson, Frank Phillips College in Borger, Odessa College and Ranger College.
As state Rep. Gallegan says: “”It’s a catastrophe. No financial aid for kids to go to college. No pre-kindergarten for kids to learn their numbers and their letters. Health and human services slashed. No Texan can be proud of this.”
The proposal would reduce reimbursement rates by 10 percent for physicians, hospitals and nursing homes that participate in Medicaid — a decrease that could eventually dry up participation in the health care program for poor and disabled Texans. In all, $2.3 billion would be cut from Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and other health and human services.
Let me summarize those two short sentences: they are trying end a medical program for poor and disabled Texans and take health care away from children.
Third, state jobs:
The plan would eliminate 9,600 state jobs over the next two years, including more than 1,500 in the prison system. The Department of Criminal Justice faces $459 million in cuts, including a 14 percent reduction in psychiatric and pharmacy care for inmates.
The state’s contributions to the state employee retirement fund would be reduced from 6.95 percent to 6 percent, less than what is needed to maintain the fund, according to the Legislative Budget Board. The base budget proposes a similar cut in contributions to the Teacher Retirement Fund.
While almost every other state agency would see a reduction in employees, the average number of full-time employees in [Governor Rick] Perry’s office over the next two fiscal years would go to 132 from 120.
Of course, the budget does call for new fees to help make up for our deficit. Who does the legislature single out for fees?:
State employees and retirees who smoke would pay a $30-a-month “tobacco user monthly premium surcharge” and the attorney general’s office would charge an “annual child support service fee,” a “monthly child support processing fee” and an “electronic filing of documents fee.”
SMOKERS! PEOPLE WHO PAY CHILD SUPPORT! Because that is how you get people to pay their child support – charge them a fee. OMFG, Texas. Can you screw over the single mother any more? God, can you imagine the single-mother who is receiving child support, needs Medicaid, and works for the state. She is SCREWED. Sorry, lady. We just don’t care about you or your kid. But hey, look on the bright side, at least you won’t have any new taxes to pay. I’m sorry, I meant, at least wealthy Texans with private health care plans and big bank accounts won’t have to pay more taxes. Because those people and their lawmakers HATE when children have education and health care and we would hate for them to have to participate in providing those kids a future.
There is more at the Austin-American Statesman, including a roundup of other websites and their interpretation of what the cuts will mean. Some choice quotes:
First, an asshole who doesn’t seem to realize that these cuts will actually affect people:
Reaction from Talmadge Heflin at the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation: “If today’s actions foreshadow the final budget, Texas will once again set an example for the rest of America and be positioned to continue the economic and job growth that has led the nation for the last decade.”
Next, someone who cares about living human beings:
Reaction from Scott McCown at the liberal Center for Public Policy Priorities: “Among many other terrible things, the proposed budget would cost almost 10,000 state jobs, would cut already inadequate provider rates for Medicaid and CHIP by 10 percent, and would underfund the Foundation School Program for public education by almost $10 billion—a cut of almost 25 percent.”
I’m livid and I feel impotent. What can I do? Tell me what to do.
Here’s the website that will help you find all the people who represent you on the both the federal and state levels. It will give you their names, websites, mailing addresses, and phone numbers.
UPDATE: From the Texas Tribune, here what the state will cut in order to make its budget:
- More than 9,000 full-time positions would be eliminated.
- Four community colleges would be shuttered.
- There’s just one area where budget-writers tried to avoid any cuts at all: border security.
- Medicaid providers would see 10-percent rate reductions.
- Up to two state-supported living centers would be shuttered.
- One state mental hospital would be privatized.
- Community mental health services would be reduced by 40 percent.
- Medicaid managed care would be expanded throughout Texas.
- Funding for the majority of Texas Education Agency discretionary grants would be eliminated, including funding for teacher incentive awards, Pre-K and high school completion.
- The Central Prison Unit in Sugar Land would be closed.
- The Texas Youth Commission would be directed to close three facilities.
So, to recap what I just learned: NO CUTS on border patrol. But let’s decimate community mental health services. That’s fucking brilliant.
It’s so dangerous down there on the border so I totally get not cutting that. What’s that? It’s NOT that dangerous. The data doesn’t support Governor Perry‘s desire to line the border with armed men standing shoulder to shoulder? (I’m not sure that’s his exact plan but it’s something like that) The fact that crime has gone down on the border actually has nothing to do with Rick Perry investing state funds in border security? What the ever-loving fuck, then?
Also, there have been no examples in the news recently of how community mental health services could help stop violence, right? Was there something that happened in Tuscon?
In other words, right now I am feeling like this: AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!