May 3, 2011
I voted today to block what I believe is a bad state budget proposal for Texas.
The proposed budget does not represent Texans’ priorities. Instead, it voids the state’s promises to our schoolchildren, teachers, doctors and hospitals.
It inappropriately relies on the use of accounting tricks and one-time money to fund perennial state obligations. It refuses to fully fund our schools and tells too many of our teachers to go home.
And it recklessly, devastatingly sets a fiscal time bomb to explode in less than two years.
Additionally, the proposal turns its back on needed reform and doesn’t address major structural flaws in the state’s budget. It doesn’t even try to meet the state’s education obligations, end the habitual use of dedicated money for things it’s not meant to pay for, or fix the continuing catastrophe of the Margins Tax – a politically driven error that many of the proposed budget’s authors helped initiate five years ago.
The lone redeeming quality in this budget seems to be that it’s better than the worst-case scenario put forward by the House of Representatives. But it’s now clear that the visions put forward by the two chambers have been growing quickly toward each other, and the Senate proposal is quite similar to where the House is likely to end up.
Regardless, the Senate should write its budget based upon the needs and priorities of Texas, not some low bar created by another body.
Those in control of the Senate defend their budget by misrepresenting its effects and accusing their opponents of being political. But the only politics here are those that this budget itself would enflame with every brutal cut to Texas schools and students, every dollar of one-time money used to cover up years of mismanagement, and every hole that this budget would fail to fill.