My high school is having an anniversary; 25 years ago we graduated from William B Travis High School1. Facebook became popular since the last time a reunion was held, thus some enterprising classmate set up a Facebook Group for the details of where and when, and who was attending. To be brutally honest, there weren’t many on the list of attendees that I’d like to have a beer with, seems like too many are Tea Baggers, religious zealots, or both. I’m sure some folks didn’t fall into this cynical trap, we are from Austin after all, but too many of the same schmoes that I didn’t like then, and hadn’t heard of in years, were going to attend.
Instead, I left the following RSVP which I’m saving for posterity:
I’m sorry but I cannot attend, even though I would like to see how some of you turned out after all these years. I’m just too afraid that Rick Perry is going to convince Texas to secede from the US, and institute some sort of 3rd world Tea Party Republic that won’t be friendly to liberal, secular humanists like myself. Maybe when there’s high speed rail service from Chicago to Texas I’d reconsider.
I’d thought about being less abrasive, and just saying “sorry, couldn’t make it”, but then, why? Don’t care about my “reputation”, and those who even remember me will have a chuckle.
Me and Joshua Starbuck in my first car, parked in front of Post Oak, back when my waist size was still 28…
apparently Roky Erickson also went to Travis – there should be a statue or something, no? But there is not. [↩]
Asked by a Dallas television reporter whether he agreed with Texas leaders that the federal government should take some governing cues from the Lone Star State, President Barack Obama said he saw “a little inconsistency” in that position.
“Keep in mind, Gov. (Rick) Perry helped balance his budget with about $6 billion worth of federal help, which he happily took, and then started blaming the members of Congress who had offered that help,” Obama said during an April 18 interview with WFAA reporter Brad Watson at the White House.
The roughly $800 billion federal stimulus package, named the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act by Congress, became law in February 2009 after receiving only three Republican votes, all in the Senate. State governments were the primary recipients of the money, although funds have also gone directly to entities such as schools, hospitals and utilities.
The law specified that governors had 45 days after its passage to certify that their state would “request and use” the offered funds. On Feb. 18, 2009, Perry sent Obama the requisite letter of certification, assuring the president that the state would accept the funds and use them “in the best interest of Texas taxpayers.”
According to a February 2009 PBS News Hour online post, some stimulus money was meant “to help states avoid slashing funding for education and other programs that lawmakers could trim to offset shortfalls.”
Abrams, asked for backup for the president’s statement, pointed us to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which in turn sent us its July 2009 report on state budgets. According to the report, state budget-writing Texas lawmakers in 2009 were short $6.6 billion in revenue for 2010-11 and relied heavily on stimulus funds for a solution.
And now that the Texas drought is helping Texas go up in wildfire flames, Governor Perry wants more of that sweet, sweet federal cash. And a kiss too.
Given the fact that Texas will certainly break the record for the most acres of land that has ever burned, in state history, it is obscene that Texas Republicans — who control every level of state government, as they have for every year since 2003 — are planning to do this, according to KVUE news here in Austin, TX:
State funding for volunteer fire departments is taking a big hit. It is going from $30 million to $7 million. Those departments are already facing financial strains. The State Firemen’s and Fire Marshals’ Association of Texas represents 21,000 state firefighters. The Association says more than 80 percent of volunteer firefighters are reporting taking a personal hit in the budget crisis. They have started using their own money to help pay for equipment and supplies.
“We’ve seen budget cuts, but this is the worst time that we’ve ever seen,” said Executive Director Chris Barron. “As far as the budget crisis and the fuel cost stuff for example continues to go up and it doesn’t help us out any whatsoever, so with the rising fuel and the budget cuts from the state it’s taken a great effect. I think the citizens and the public is going to see that.”
Most of the State of Texas is protected by volunteer departments. There are 879 volunteer departments compared to 114 paid departments and 187 departments that are a combination of both paid and volunteer firefighters.
1.8 million acres of Texas land has burned, guaranteeing Texas will have the worst year for wildfires in recorded history
So far this year local fire departments have saved over 10,000 structures from being burned
There are 879 volunteer fire departments in Texas, compared to 114 paid departments and 187 that are a combination of both
Texas Republicans have voted to cut funding for volunteer firefighters by over 75%.
By the way — Governor Perry’s solution for all of this was simple: pray.
This straight from the “How is it we are not making this up?” files: Gov. Rick Perry has declared this weekend Days of Prayer for Rain in Texas. Well, that’s cheaper than coming up with real water policy. Obviously you are currently checking the date but, no, this is not a delayed April Fools story. It’s on his website.
In an accompanying statement, Perry said, “It is fitting that Texans should join together in prayer to humbly seek an end to this ongoing drought and these devastating wildfires.” What makes this particularly galling is when he goes on to ask Texans to pray for “the safety of the brave firefighters and emergency management officials who have worked tirelessly to protect lives and property around the state.” This would mean something if Perry’s people had not stood in the way of a measure that would have improved the safety of exactly those firefighters. It is not just that the current wildfires, which have destroyed over 1.5 million acres and killed two firefighters, are so huge: It is that Texas is increasingly building housing outside of cities. Unincorporated areas are very attractive to developers because there is usually lots of space and fewer regulations. However, there are also fewer hospitals, fewer police, and fewer firefighters. That means less equipment, fewer fire stations, and worse response times.
Texas had a chance to fix that two years ago, and Perry was at least passively part of the effort to squash that fix. Back in 2009, now former Travis County Democratic state rep Valinda Bolton authored House Bill 3477, a measure that would have allowed those hugely overstretched rural emergency service districts to hold short-term tax elections for desperately needed infrastructure. The sole purpose was to cut response times and give them a better chance to fight exactly this kind of fire. It is interesting to note that, when the accompanying House Joint Resolution 112 came up in committee, every witness spoke for the bill – except for Michele Greg of the Texas Apartment Association. Somehow, the bill still failed, and word at the time was that the governor’s office was pleased that even a vitally needed and broadly supported ‘tax’ bill sputtered out. If it had passed, then it would have given ESDs the ability to ask voters to give them more resources to fight wildfires in unincorporated areas. It would also have meant more infrastructure in place like Oak Hill, which was severely damaged by fire this weekend, when they are incorporated.
When asked about the bill’s demise last year, Perry said he did not know about the specifics. However, during the 2009 session it was pretty clear to everyone that HB 3477 was squashed as part of the general anti-tax, anti-public investment rubric coming out of his office. So now Perry’s solution to out-of-control wildfires caused by a massive and ongoing drought (ssssh don’t mention climate change) is prayer. Maybe we should be praying for longer hoses.
With wildfire season gearing up out West, more tankers are expected to be available. A total of 18 air tankers are scheduled to be cycled in for use by mid-June, and four more military C-130s could also be called upon in an emergency.
Severe drought set the stage for these massive wildfires, but the intense winds and abundant shrubs that grew as a result of last year’s more plentiful rains stirred the pot for Texas and its surrounding areas (ClimateWire, April 21).
Texas State climatologist John Nielson-Gammon said that while the Texas fires themselves cannot be attributed to climate change, global warming likely sparked some of the conditions leading to the blazes.
“Global warming probably produced a slight enhancement of the rainfall, leading to a little extra plant growth,” he said. “Also, the warm temperatures during the past couple of months are probably a degree or two warmer than they would have been without the rise in global temperatures, thereby increasing the dryness,” he added.
Wildfires have already ravaged nearly two million acres in Texas, and Perry is requesting federal help to pay for the emergency response, officials said. Spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger said without the federal assistance, “we’re going to have to get pretty creative.” She said it has been about 10 days since the state requested federal disaster assistance and the governor, who has repeatedly bashed Washington, believes disaster response is one of the government’s “core functions.”
She said the state has estimated the cost of the response at $70 million. The state can pay 25 percent of that, or about $17.5 million, Cesinger added. Perry wants Uncle Sam to pick up the rest of it.
“We can’t afford ($70 milllion),” Cesinger said. “That’s why we asked them for help.”
A federal major disaster declaration could reimburse Texas and local governments 75 percent of the cost of their response. Local departments and the Texas Forest Service have spent more than $60 million since Sept. 1 responding to wildfires, state forest service spokeswoman Linda Moon said.
“Governor Perry’s request is currently under review, and will continue our close coordination with the state as they work to protect their residents and communities,” FEMA spokeswoman Rachel Racusen said.
She said Texas has already received 22 grants to help pay fire management expenses this fire season, including 16 in April alone.
In the past, Perry has charged that the Obama administration is punishing Texas. The Republican governor has been an outspoken opponent of the federal health reform law, and the state is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over a proposal to end Texas’ independent air quality permitting program for factories and refineries.
I hope John Kuhn, father of three, doesn’t mind me quoting his entire letter to the Mineral Wells, Texas, newspaper. Mr. Kuhn makes a few excellent points, I’ll let him articulate them:
Stop labeling teachers, label the lawmakers
The age of accountability should be renamed the age of blame, when teachers wear the scarlet letter for the failings of a nation. We send teachers into pockets of poverty that our leaders can’t or won’t eradicate, and when those teachers fail to work miracles among devastated children, we stamp ‘unacceptable’ on their foreheads.
I ask you, where is the label for the lawmaker whose policies fail to clean up the poorest neighborhoods? Why do we not demand that our leaders make “Adequate Yearly Progress”? We have data about poverty, health care, crime, and drug abuse in every legislative district. We know that those factors directly impact our ability to teach kids. Why have we not established annual targets for our legislators to meet? Why do they not join us beneath these vinyl banners that read “exemplary” in the suburbs and “unacceptable” in the slums?
Let us label lawmakers like we label teachers, and we can eliminate 100 percent of poverty, crime, drug abuse, and preventable illness by 2014! It is easy for elected officials to tell teachers to “Race to the top” when no one has a stopwatch on them! Lace up your sneakers, Senators! Come race with us!
Teachers are surrounded by armchair quarterbacks who won’t lift a finger to help, only to point. Congressmen, come down out of those bleachers and strive with us against the pernicious ravages of poverty. We need more from you than blame. America’s education problem is actually a poverty problem.
If labels fix schools, let us use labels to fix our congresses! Let lawmakers show the courage of a teacher! Hold hands with us and let us march together into the teeth of this blame machine you have built. Let us hold this congressman up against that congressman and compare them just as we compare our schools. Congressmen, do not fear this accountability you have given us. Like us, you will learn to love it.
Or maybe lawmakers do such a wonderful job that we don’t need to hold them accountable?
Did you know that over the next five years, Texas lawmakers will send half a billion dollars to London, to line the pockets of Pearson’s stakeholders. That’s 15,000 teacher salaries, sacrificed at the altar of standardized testing. $500,000,000 for a test! I’m sure it’s a nice test, but it’s just a test. I’ve never seen a test change a kid’s life or dry a kid’s tear. Tests don’t show up at family funerals or junior high basketball games. They don’t chip in to buy a poor girl a prom dress. Only teachers do those things.
If times are desperate enough to slash local schools’ operating funds, then surely they are desperate enough to slash Pearson’s profits. Lawmakers, get your priorities straight. Put a moratorium on testing until we can afford it. Teachers are our treasure – let’s not lose the house just so we can keep our subscription to Pearson’s Test-of-the-Month Club. We have heard Texas senators often talk about the teacher-to-non-teacher ratio in our schools. Lawmakers, they are ALL non-teachers at Pearson. Don’t spend half a billion dollars that we don’t have on some test that is made in England.
Parents are so fed up with standardized testing that hundreds are now refusing to let their children test. They do not want their children run through this terrible punch press. They do not want standardized children. They want exceptional children!
Let me tell you Texas’s other dirty secret – some schools get three times the funding of other schools. Some schools get $12,000 per student, while others get $4,000. Did you know that every single child in Austin is worth $1,000 more than every single child in Fort Worth? Do you agree with that valuation? Congress does. They spend billions to fund this imbalance.
Now the architects of this inequity point at the salaries and staff sizes at the schools they have enriched to justify cuts at schools that have never been given enough. State Sen. Florence Shapiro, of Plano, says, essentially, yes, but we’re cutting the poor schools by less. Senator, you don’t take bread away from people in a soup line! Not even one crumb. And you should not take funds away from schools that you have already underfunded for years. It may be politically right to bring home the bacon, but ain’t right right.
Legislators, take the energy you spend shifting blame and apply it toward fixing the funding mechanisms. We elected you to solve the state’s problems, not merely to blame them on local government. After all, you have mandated local decision-making for years. Your FIRST rating system tells school boards that their district’s administrative cost ratio can be no higher than 0.2 percent. And over 95 percent of school districts in Texas are in compliance with the standard you have set. At my school, our administrative cost ratio is 0.06 percent – so could you please stop blaming me?
If 95 percent of schools are compliant with the administrative cost ratio indicator in the state’s financial rating system for schools, then why are state officials saying we have too much administration? We have the amount of administration they told us to have! Either they gave us bad guidance and we all followed it, or they gave us good guidance and just need someone other than themselves to blame for these cuts.
Is this the best we can do in Texas? I wish they would worry about students half as much as they worry about getting re-elected.
These same senators have a catchy new slogan: “Protect the Classroom.” I ask you, senators: who are we protecting the classroom from? You, that’s who. You are swinging the ax; don’t blame us for bleeding wrong.
They know that their cuts are so drastic that school boards will have no choice but to let teachers go, and I can prove it: while they give press conferences telling superintendents not to fire teachers, at the same time they pass laws making it easier for … you guessed it …administrators to fire teachers. Which is it, senators?
If we don’t truly need to cut teachers, then don’t pass the laws that reduce their employment protections. And if we truly do need to cut teachers, then go ahead and pass those laws but quit saying teacher cuts are the superintendents’ fault. Here’s the deal: I can accept cuts, but I cannot do anything but forcefully reject deceit.
Politicians, save your buck-passing for another day. We need leadership. Get to work, congressmen. Do your jobs, and find the revenue to fund my child’s education.
Fascinating. Though I’m surprised the Texas Government has not banned this sort of science since it contradicts their beliefs about a 6,000 year old earth as described in their Holy Bible. If this new discovery ever makes it to a Texas schoolbook, there will have to be a sticker claiming the carbon dating1 is just a theory, one among many, with a Jesus-Fish superimposed over the arrow heads.
For many years, scientists have thought that the first Americans came here from Asia 13,000 years ago, during the last ice age, probably by way of the Bering Strait. They were known as the Clovis people, after the town in New Mexico where their finely wrought spear points were first discovered in 1929.
But in more recent years, archaeologists have found more and more traces of even earlier people with a less refined technology inhabiting North America and spreading as far south as Chile.
And now clinching evidence in the mystery of the early peopling of America — Clovis or pre-Clovis? — for nearly all scientists appears to have turned up at a creek valley in the hill country of what is today Central Texas, 40 miles northwest of Austin.
The new findings establish that the last major human migration, into the Americas, began earlier than once thought. And the discovery could change thinking about how people got here (by coastal migrations along shores and in boats) and how they adapted to the new environment in part by making improvements in toolmaking that led eventually to the technology associated with the Clovis culture.
The Texas archaeologists said the new dig site has produced the largest number of artifacts dating to the pre-Clovis period. The dates for the sediments bearing the stone tools were determined to range from 13,200 to 15,500 years ago.
Given the lack of sufficient organic material buried around the tools, the radiocarbon dating method was useless. Instead, earth scientists at the University of Illinois, Chicago, used a newer technique known as optically stimulated luminescence. This measures light energy trapped in minerals to reveal how long ago the soil was last exposed to sunlight.
Rick Perry and his fellow GOP-ers are busily ensuring that Texas remains at the bottom of most education metrics for a long while. I guess their philosophy is to turn Texas into a third world country, and depress wages, thus ensuring the Texas oligarchy healthy profits when Texas secedes from the US.
Paul Krugman writes:
Texas likes to portray itself as a model of small government, and indeed it is. Taxes are low, at least if you’re in the upper part of the income distribution (taxes on the bottom 40 percent of the population are actually above the national average). Government spending is also low. And to be fair, low taxes may be one reason for the state’s rapid population growth, although low housing prices are surely much more important.
But here’s the thing: While low spending may sound good in the abstract, what it amounts to in practice is low spending on children, who account directly or indirectly for a large part of government outlays at the state and local level.
And in low-tax, low-spending Texas, the kids are not all right. The high school graduation rate, at just 61.3 percent, puts Texas 43rd out of 50 in state rankings. Nationally, the state ranks fifth in child poverty; it leads in the percentage of children without health insurance. And only 78 percent of Texas children are in excellent or very good health, significantly below the national average.
But wait — how can graduation rates be so low when Texas had that education miracle back when former President Bush was governor? Well, a couple of years into his presidency the truth about that miracle came out: Texas school administrators achieved low reported dropout rates the old-fashioned way — they, ahem, got the numbers wrong.
It’s not a pretty picture; compassion aside, you have to wonder — and many business people in Texas do — how the state can prosper in the long run with a future work force blighted by childhood poverty, poor health and lack of education.
The really striking thing about all this isn’t the cruelty — at this point you expect that — but the shortsightedness. What’s supposed to happen when today’s neglected children become tomorrow’s work force?
Anyway, the next time some self-proclaimed deficit hawk tells you how much he worries about the debt we’re leaving our children, remember what’s happening in Texas, a state whose slogan right now might as well be “Lose the future.”
Ru-oh. How is Governor Good Hair going to spin this? I’m sure if Texas had seceded, this wouldn’t even be discussed in public. Too bad there isn’t an impeachment mechanism in Texas – Rick Perry has been leading Texas into its current sorry state for a long time.
Texas is expected to collect $72.2 billion in taxes, fees and other general revenue during the 2012-13 budget, down from the $87 billion used in the current two-year budget, Comptroller Susan Combs announced Monday. That puts the shortfall at $27 billion given that maintaining services would run $99 billion for biennium. Collections for the current budget will come in $4.3 billion less than budgeted. Click here to read the comptroller’s report (PDF)
Combs’ estimate dictates how much the Legislature will have to spend in the upcoming budget on education, prisons, health and human services and a slew of other state functions.
there’s one state, which is fairly high up on the list of troubled states that nobody is talking about, and there’s a reason for it.
The state is Texas.
This month the state’s part-time legislature goes back into session, and the state is starting at potentially a $25 billion deficit on a two-year budget of around $95 billion. That’s enormous. And there’s not much fat to cut. The whole budget is basically education and healthcare spending. Cutting everything else wouldn’t do the trick. And though raising this kind of money would be easy on an economy of $1.2 trillion, the new GOP mega-majority in Congress is firmly against raising any revenue.
So the bi-ennial legislature, which convenes this month, faces some hard cuts. Some in the Texas GDP have advocated dropping Medicaid altogether to save money.
So why haven’t we heard more about Texas, one of the most important economy’s in America? Well, it’s because it doesn’t fit the script. It’s a pro-business, lean-spending, no-union state. You can’t fit it into a nice storyline, so it’s ignored.
But if you want to make comparisons between US states and ailing European countries, think of Texas as being like America’s Ireland. Ireland was once praised as a model for economic growth: conservatives loved it for its pro-business, anti-tax, low-spending strategy, and hailed it as the way forward for all of Europe. Then it blew up.
Of course, if Texas were to follow Gov Good Hair’s advice, and secede from the Union, well, everything would just be peachy, right?
the link nominates these 16 states as economic trouble spots: Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina, Arizona, Oregon, Louisiana, Connecticut, Texas, Minnesota, South Carolina, Mississippi, California, Nevada, New Jersey, and Illinois [↩]
SOUTHLAKE, Texas—Police officer Ric Salas is mounting a sting operation to catch a gang of vandals terrorizing this affluent Dallas suburb.
His plan: lure them with corn, trap them in a pen—and avoid their pointy tusks.
The police officer is on feral-pig patrol, charged with fighting back the stout, smart, snouted invaders that are tearing up flower beds and street medians in search of roots and grubs. One evening recently, they dined at—and trashed—the parking lot of a Verizon office building.
Wild pigs, descendants of animals brought by the Spanish conquistadors, have foraged in Texas for centuries and have long been a pest on ranches. But as cities and suburbs swallow up more land, they are becoming an urban nuisance as well.
Eradication methods common in rural Texas, such as shooting feral pigs from helicopters, don’t lend themselves to a more urban setting. So police departments and animal-control officers are trying new ways to stymie the wily wild swine, methodically tracking the marauders’ hoofprints and setting up night-vision cameras to monitor their movements.
Willie Nelson Blvd, in Austin, which used to be 2nd Street1
Why are police bothering Willie Nelson, anyway? Don’t they have anything better to do?
You gotta love a sumbitch like Willie Nelson who, unlike Bill “I-Never-Inhaled” Clinton, has always ‘fessed up to using copious quantities of herb. Two days ago, in response to his pot bust last Friday at a Border Patrol checkpoint near Sierra Blanca (that’s a Spanish geographical term for the middle of fucking nowhere), the Red Headed Stranger formed Willie Nelson’s Teapot Party; as of this morning, 20,000 people have joined.
This leads Lonesome Onry and Mean to wonder if any of our politicians are paying attention to the will of the people. We’ll bet Gov. Rick Perry’s anus puckered up tighter than an unfracked shale formation when some aide walked up and whispered in his ear, “Willie Nelson’s been busted for pot.” Terrorists inside the Alamo couldn’t have been a worse scenario for the Governor.
Will Willie’s bust be the straw that finally breaks the camel’s back regarding legalization? Wouldn’t it be great if high-profile politicians like former president George W. Bush, Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison got together, called a press conference and said, “OK, enough is enough”?
Or, even better, looked into the camera and screamed “Free Willie Nelson! And while you’re at it, bring us the head of that nincompoop agent who boarded Willie’s bus.”
John Kelso reads Governor Good Hair Perry’s book so we don’t have to, and boils down its essence to this blunt thought – stay out of Texas unless you are a Tea Partier. Such a friendly message. Texas hospitality, indeed.
Perry’s solution to all this is that if you don’t like what’s cookin’ in your state, leave. I think this is a first in American history. I don’t recall a chamber of commerce type ever telling potential customers to take a hike. I mean, I’ve done it in my column with Californians, but I was just kidding. Perry, apparently, is serious. “If you don’t support the death penalty and citizens packing a pistol, don’t come to Texas,” Perry writes. “If you don’t like medicinal marijuana and gay marriage, don’t move to California.” This strikes me as Middle Eastern thinking, putting people in places based on their beliefs. You got your Shiites over here and your Sunnis over here. Thank you, Ayatollah Perry.
I guess if you depend upon taxpayer money to make your film, you have to expect some restrictions and censorship. Make a film that the Tourism Board approves, in other words, or find your own financing.
“This film is unlikely to promote tourism in Michigan or to present or reflect Michigan in a positive light,” wrote Janet Lockwood, Michigan’s film commissioner. Ms. Lockwood particularly objected to “this extreme horror film’s subject matter, namely realistic cannibalism; the gruesome and graphically violent depictions described in the screenplay; and the explicit nature of the script.”
The easy money is not quite so easy any more.
Among the states that began underwriting film and television production with heavy subsidies over the past half-decade — 44 states had some sort of incentives by last year, 28 of them involving tax credits — at least a handful are giving new scrutiny to a question that was politely overlooked in the early excitement: What kind of films are taxpayers paying for?
In Texas too, the Film Board is becoming more discerning as well
In Texas, the verdict is still out on “Machete,” a thriller from the filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, set for release by 20th Century Fox in September.
In May, Mr. Rodriguez used a mock trailer to promote the movie as a revenge story targeted at Arizona in the wake of its new anti-illegal immigrant law. Conservative bloggers and others then called on the Texas film commission to deny it support under a rule that says the state does not have to pay for projects that include “inappropriate content or content that portrays Texas or Texans in a negative fashion.”
Bob Hudgins, the film commission’s director, said he had never yet denied financing to a film under the provision — though he warned the makers of a picture about the Waco raid that they need not apply because of what Mr. Hudgins saw as inaccuracies about the event and people connected with it.
Mr. Hudgins said would reserve judgment about “Machete” until he sees it. Texas, like many states, doesn’t pay its share until after a film is finished.
“This is tough for filmmakers to understand, but this is not about their right to make the movie,” Mr. Hudgins explained. “It’s about the public investing in it.”
In an e-mail message, Mr. Rodriguez, who is still finishing “Machete,” said the objections have come from people who do not know what is in the movie.
“The film is not about Texas specifically and it most certainly does not paint Texas in a negative light,” he wrote.
The bane of Texas, Governor “Good Hair” Perry, resisted accepting stimulus money from the federal government, but was eventually over-ruled by his legislature. Ironically, without the stimulus money, Texas would really be in dire straits. Will Perry apologize? Ha, only when Houston freezes in July.
The Texas state legislature eventually pushed Perry to accept the money, but even in his official acceptance letter, Perry wrote that “I believe there are better ways to reinvigorate our economy and believe [the bill] will burden future generations with unprecedented levels of debt.” However, as the Wall Street Journal noted this morning, the stimulus is the reason that Texas currently has a balanced budget:
[T]he economic downturn is catching up with Texas. Sales-tax revenue started falling in February 2009 compared with the previous year, and only started to recover a bit in April of this year. Although Mr. Perry has railed against the federal economic-stimulus program, billions of dollars from that initiative helped Texas legislators balance the current budget.
Texas faces an $18 billion shortfall in its next two-year budget, which amounts to 20 percent of the total. And Perry’s refusal to consider tax increases is setting the state up for draconian cuts. “There is no way that they will be able to come up with $18 billion in cuts,” said Eva DeLuna Castro, a senior budget analyst at the
AUSTIN, Tex. — After three days of turbulent meetings, the Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.
The vote was 10 to 5 along party lines, with all the Republicans on the board voting for it.
The board, whose members are elected, has influence beyond Texas because the state is one of the largest buyers of textbooks. In the digital age, however, that influence has diminished as technological advances have made it possible for publishers to tailor books to individual states.
In recent years, board members have been locked in an ideological battle between a bloc of conservatives who question Darwin’s theory of evolution and believe the Founding Fathers were guided by Christian principles, and a handful of Democrats and moderate Republicans who have fought to preserve the teaching of Darwinism and the separation of church and state.
Since January, Republicans on the board have passed more than 100 amendments to the 120-page curriculum standards affecting history, sociology and economics courses from elementary to high school. The standards were proposed by a panel of teachers.
For all of the charms of Texas1, the power of the Christian Taliban over Texas politics is certainly in my top five reasons for moving away. There are just too many of these anti-21st century, anti-intellectual, anti-free thinking radicals in positions of authority. The Texas Board of Education is an elected position, and the Texas Board of Education believes in a 6,000 year old Earth, hence the majority of voters in Texas also believe2 that humans rode around on dinosaurs. Scary, scary people.
George W. Bush was an honorary member, at the least, but the current Governor of Texas is a founding member of the Texas Flat Earth Party of the Christian Taliban. And Governor Good Hair is about to be elected for a third term. The will of the people indeed, just not people I wish to affiliate with.
“I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state,” said David Bradley, a conservative from Beaumont who works in real estate. “I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution.”3
They also included a plank to ensure that students learn about “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.”
Even the course on world history did not escape the board’s scalpel.Cynthia Dunbar, a lawyer from Richmond who is a strict constitutionalist and thinks the nation was founded on Christian beliefs, managed to cut Thomas Jefferson from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century, replacing him with St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone. (Jefferson is not well liked among conservatives on the board because he coined the term “separation between church and state.”)
I wouldn’t be sad if Texas actually did secede, as long as there is a bullet train that goes to Austin so I can visit family.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. [↩]
Glenn Greenwald – Karl Rove: Champion of “traditional” divorce – [he ] engineered multiple referenda to incorporate a ban on same-sex marriage into various states’ constitutions in 2004 in order to ensure that so-called “”Christian conservatives” and “value voters” who believe in “traditional marriage laws” would turn out and help re-elect George W. Bush. Yet, like so many of his like-minded pious comrades, Rove seems far better at preaching the virtues of “traditional marriage” to others and exploiting them for political gain than he does adhering to those principles in his own life:Karl Rove granted divorce in Texas