Conservative Legislators to Texans: "How Do I Economy?"
In a biennial “exercise,” state agencies have been ordered by the Legislature to cut 10 percent from current budgets when preparing their proposals for the next two fiscal years. While no programs or services are being cut as of yet, it is not much of a stretch to imagine that these cuts may very well become a reality in the 2013 session.
Political backlash for the state's extremism is almost nonexistent. In fact, Dewhurst, who is running for the U.S. Senate, was roundly booed at the Texas GOP convention in Fort Worth over the weekend for being a moderate. He is in a runoff against Ted Cruz, an attorney who believes deeply in the Tea Party, and also a conspiracy to rid America of its golf courses (seriously), which is a nightmarish specter for many Republicans. Whenever Rick Perry mentioned Dewhurst in his speech, the delegates booed. The governor, whose best workouts come from running away from reporters, yelled over his shoulder to inquiries that he thought they were chanting "Dew." They weren't. Dewhurst spent about $9 million to get into a runoff with Cruz and there is a possibility the excited Tea Partiers might flood the polling booths. At a minimum, they appear to be exercising increasing influence on the Texas GOP. The cutting might just be getting started.
The portentous exercise has dashed the hopes of many program advocates and agencies who were hoping that they would see some reversals of the devastating $15 billion in cuts that were the aftermath of the 2011 two-year budget that resulted in reductions in funding for education, healthcare, and a loss of 5,700 jobs from the state workforce.
Despite increases in sales tax and other state revenues that are most likely a result of increasing aggregate demand – thanks in no small part to an increase in private sector growth that can be largely attributed to the poaching of jobs and business from neighboring states due to Texas' anti-worker rights laws and corporate tax haven reputation – the conservative ideologues in the Texas Legislature continue to enact and fantasize about cuts with horrendous consequences and with blatant disregard for the proven failure of austerity measures in the vast majority of states. Multibillion dollar cuts in education, nursing homes, and public employment characterized the majority of last year’s budget – not to mention that underinsured children are now forced to go unvaccinated.
In a statement issued last year in response to the approval of the 2012-2013 budget cuts, Republican House Speaker Joe Straus made the telling claim that “By balancing the budget and avoiding new taxes, we will help our Texas economy continue to grow and add jobs.”
However, a brief analysis of Straus’ statement – combined with the reality that the Legislature is responsible for killing thousands of public jobs by way of the 2012-2013 budget and is guilty of tens of thousands more in previous job cuts – reveals that the only intellectually honest objective of the Texas Legislature’s conservative faction is to continue to avoid any type of tax increase…
So long as it’s only middle and lower income Texans who have to suffer the consequences of their draconian budget manipulation.