So, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has thrown his hat into the whacked-out GOP presidential multi-ring circus. Get ready to hear a lot of hot air and false information, especially on Faux News and other corporate media outlets, about the “Texas economic miracle.” The only problem is that that “miracle” is phony. Texas is in very serious financial trouble, to the tune of a $27 billion deficit. As is typical of ideologically poisoned Republicans, the legislature first pledged to close the budget gap by cutting services alone.
The immediate cut to services would have been so draconian – end all Medicaid payments, immediately cut payments to school districts by 25%, and lay off tens of thousands of state employees – that Rick Perry, who had emphatically stated that the state would not dip into its $9.2 billion rainy day fund to help balance the budget, finally agreed to use a $3.2 billion fund withdrawal to temporarily close the budget gap. How temporary? Until August 31, when the state will have to figure out how to plug a remaining $23 billion shortfall in its next two-year budget. Even so, Perry was touting the Texas “miracle” only weeks ago while fully knowledgeable about the horrible fiscal mess.
I don’t think Rick Perry wants anyone to publicize some other facts about conditions in the state of Texas today. Let’s just say it’s a great place to live if you are loaded with money, but woe to you if you are not.
Texas public schools rank 49th out of 50 states in achievement. And, remember, we had that infamous No Child Left Behind law forced on us by another former Texas governor who pretended to be presidential material. Texas also has the largest number of uninsured motorists in the nation, so be very careful if you drive through the state. The person who hits your car just may be uninsured.
Don’t get sick or have an accident on weekends in Texas. Waits in the state’s emergency rooms average 6 to 16 hours then.
In Texas according to the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a family earning $29,223 pays 14 percent of its income in state taxes, compared to a family that earns $126,460 paying 3 percent. Why? Texas has no income tax. Instead, it relies on regressive sales taxes that can be up to 8.25% depending on the locality, plus there are lots of high fees on various things.
According to Paul Krugman, “Texas is where the modern conservative theory of budgeting, the belief that you should never raise taxes under any circumstances, that you can always balance the budget by cutting wasteful spending, has been implemented most completely.” That theory hasn’t worked out so well.
The result is that Texas is facing a budget deficit worse than New York and as bad as California’s. Plus, there’s no way Texas can blame the big, bad public sector unions for its troubles because almost no one in a public sector job is unionized in the state.
I really don’t want to see another reality-challenged Texas governor anywhere near the White House. I remember all too well the last one who got there. The country is still paying for it.