October 26, 2015
I love Texas. It’s a great state and I serve it proudly. But there are days when those in control of the Capitol make my head hurt and they do things that help me sort of understand why Norwegians use Texas as a synonym for “crazy”.
The Texas Department of Public Safety, the state agency teeming with troopers and Texas Rangers, won’t allow its non-law enforcement employees to carry guns openly at work when the open carry of guns becomes legal on January 1. Carrying a gun just doesn’t send the right message to customers, according to DPS Director Steve McCraw. “We just think there’s an impact on the public,” he said.
Ya think? I’d argue that the same could be said for those of us who, I don’t know, walk down the street.
And to absolutely nobody’s surprise, students and faculty members at our public colleges and universities are justifiably concerned about the new guns on campus law. It seems the misguided policy already seems to be driving away some top-flight professors.
Hmmm, I wonder if this is going to hurt Texas’ $38 million effort to recruit prominent researchers to the state’s public colleges and universities?
Texas has long refused to expand Medicaid in part because opponents say there aren’t enough healthcare providers to treat millions of new Medicaid patients. Yet, last week, the state kicked Planned Parenthood out of Medicaid and made the ridiculous claim that the decision will not reduce access to healthcare.
The Austin American-Statesman found that contradiction a bit too much to swallow: Now, just a few short years later we suddenly have enough (healthcare providers) in all parts of the state to accommodate…thousands of women on Medicaid who currently use Planned Parenthood clinics?
Especially galling to me is the righteous indignation we get from those in control of the Capitol who rail against rising property taxes while ignoring that they are the primary reason our property taxes are rising.
The property taxes collected for public schools dwarf the amount that goes to cities, counties, community colleges, hospital districts and more. For the most part, school taxes are the driver behind increasing property tax bills.
And the state — not your local school district — reaps the benefit. In Austin ISD, the average homeowner is paying about $1,000 in property taxes this year to help the state cover its constitutional responsibility to support public schools across the state.
All told, the state’s current two-year budget banks on local school property tax revenueincreasing by $6.6 billion. Of that total amount, $4 billion will go to schools for new students and a small bump in per-student funding. Another $1.2 billion covers the cost of increasing the school homestead exemption, assuming voters approve it Nov. 3. Yes, you are funding your own property tax reduction.
And the remaining $1.4 billion of your property taxes? That was used to pad the state’s bottom line.
You don’t have to speak Norwegian to think that’s crazy.