Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Texas, With the Nation’s Strongest Economy Enacts Massive Cuts in Funding Public Education

Their Billionaires Must Be Very Proud

Early in the race for the Republican nomination for President it was thought that Texas Gov. Rick Perry would be a natural front runner, in large part because the Texas economy had performed so well in the face of a world wide recession.  This thought was wrong, not because the Texas economy was not as strong as previously considered, but because Mr. Perry was, to put it as politely as possible, not ready for prime time.  But in Texas there is not question that the state’s economic activity is very strong.

So one would think that state coffers are flowing with tax revenue and that Texans being at least as smart as everyone else would be directing some of this extra tax money into education.  After all investment in education is one of the best ways to continue to support economic activity and it is the logical place to put all that extra tax revenue.  But it turns out this is wrong.

First of all Texas has not had a huge increase in tax revenues, because Texas has a policy of no state income tax, and because it engaged in rather large tax cuts in the past.  And no, Texas does not consider education a priority, and this year has rather severely cut spending in education.

Texas lawmakers cut public education financing by roughly $5.4 billion to balance the state’s two-year budget during the last legislative session, with the cuts taking effect this school year and next.

The budget reductions that districts large and small have had to make have transformed school life in a host of ways — increasing class sizes, reducing services and supplies and thinning the ranks of teachers, custodians, librarians and others, school administrators said.

And yes, even without knowing anything about Texas politics one could safely assume that Conservative Republicans are in charge.

Several lawmakers in the Republican-controlled Legislature have played down the impact of the $5.4 billion in cuts on schools statewide. In an interview in February with The Dallas Morning News, Gov. Rick Perry said he saw no need for a special legislative session to restore some of the education funding that was eliminated last year and said the schools were receiving an adequate amount of money. “How that money’s spent is the bigger issue,” he told the newspaper.

When several world leaders in China, Brazil, India and other countries, all of whom are spending billions and billions to upgrade their educational systems and their government supported infrastructure,  were asked whether or not they thought they could defeat America in the world economy, all of them said the same thing,

“We don’t have to, America will defeat itself”.

1 comment:

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