Saturday, January 24, 2015

Campbell wants to give discounts to wealthy parents

State Senator Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) his introduced a bill she claims is aimed at addressing inadequate funding of public education in Texas by allowing state funds to pay $3,500 in tuition to private schools. One of the several problems with this concept, as documented in a study of a similar program in Minnesota, is that children from families are financially unable to take advantage of such a program even though they are the students most likely to attend poor performing schools. Low performing schools and districts are usually in low income areas where there isn’t a sufficient tax base to adequately fund public education needs. So parents are usually too poor to pay the difference between the state funds and the annual $10,000 to $25,000 tuition private schools charge.

This bill is really about providing a discount to parents already wealthy enough to send their children to private schools. Once enough better off parents are sending their children to private schools they may no longer care about the quality of public education or be willing to pay the necessary taxes to fund it.

All Campbell’s bill really does is broaden the gulf between the haves and the have nots.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Religious Freedom Day - Letter to the Editor

The Texas legislature will soon be in session and several ostensible “religious freedom” bills have already been submitted including one from Senator Donna Campbell (SD 25). Unfortunately neither Campbell nor her colleagues seem to understand the intent of our constitutionally guaranteed religious freedom. January 16 is Religious Freedom Day commemorating the enactment of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786 and an opportunity to remind her and others what “religious freedom” really means.

At the time of the Revolution religious freedom was not guaranteed by any government then existent. Most of the colonies had officially established religions and citizens were expected to attend that church and pay taxes supporting that church.

Before the U.S. Constitution was drafted, future presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison worked to free Virginia from its official state church, the Anglican Church. Jefferson wrote the bill and Madison pushed its passage as a member of the state legislature.

Shortly after the bills passage Madison went to Philadelphia and became the primary author of the U.S Constitution and the First Amendment. During the lengthy debates between delegates to the constitutional convention several attempts were made to include statements claiming the United States to be a Christian nation but they were soundly rebuffed each time.

There only two mentions of religion in our constitution, both in the negative. Article VI prohibits a religious test in order to hold public office and the First Amendment bars laws “respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Our tax dollars shouldn't subsidize Walmart profits

On Black Friday, for the third year in a row, demonstrators gathered at Walmart’s across the nation; but this year was different because for the first time there were demonstrators at the Schertz store as well as 1500 other locations. The local demonstrators pointed out that Walmart, like too many other large and profitable companies, receives subsidies from our tax dollars because they pay the staff so poorly that many of their families qualify for and receive Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program benefits, formerly known as food stamps. Many also qualify for Medicaid and other taxpayer financed assistance.

Forbes magazine reports that Walmart accounts for $6.2 billion in such subsidies every year. Raising minimum wage to at least the poverty line would significantly reduce the $400,000 per year subsidy that an average Walmart location gets from us, the taxpayers.

In addition demonstrators called for Walmart to make more positions full time so that more employees would qualify for company health insurance benefits. Another issue discussed was unpredictable and erratic scheduling that makes it difficult to take care of family needs like doctor appointments and meetings at school.

Our 32nd president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, when explaining his support for the original minimum wage bill he signed into law said: “No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.” It’s long past time that our legislators end this corporate welfare.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Cornyn Votes Against the Interests of the American People - A Letter to the Editor

Last Thursday Sen. John Cornyn (R) was one of 42 U.S. Senators who voted to prevent the people of the United States from even having the chance vote on restricting campaign donations that currently influence our elected officials. He is part of the problem and not part of the solution.

The American people overwhelmingly support action to limit the amount of money that corporations, unions and other organizations can spend on elections. Public support is also bipartisan as shown a 2010 Peter Hart poll 68% of Republicans, 82% of independents, and 87% of Democrats support such an amendment. A 2012 Associated Press poll showed that 81% of Republicans, 78% of independents, and 85% of Democrats want to limit corporate, union, and other outside spending.

If John Cornyn refuses to act in the interests of the people he needs to be fired. Dr. David Alameel would make a fine replacement.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Republicans again found to unconstitutionally under fund public education, it's time to do better

Once again the system Texas uses to fund public schools was found to violate the state's constitution by not providing enough money to school districts and failing to distribute it fairly. The situation is so bad even the conservative SCUC ISD Board of Trustees approved suing the state over the unjust funding formula.

What’s worse is that the same judge, John Dietz, found the system unconstitutional well before the last legislative session was over and yet state our Representative John Kuempel and state Senator Donna Campbell voted for it anyway.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott who as Attorney General is defending the state has again lost in court. Senators Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte, now running for governor and lieutenant governor, both worked hard to overcome resistance to adequately funding public education in the legislature.

On November 4th we’ll elect our state leaders, I’ll be voting for people who have shown they believe in public education and are willing to work hard to invest in our kids futures. I hope you will too.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Greg Abbott isn’t confident he can win on the issues

Most of the analysis of Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott’s withdrawal from the only statewide televised debate talks about it in horse race terms. The various talking heads say it’s a smart move because it removes a chance for Democratic candidate Wendy Davis to get statewide exposure and possibly close the increasingly tight gap. Unfortunately I haven’t heard any analyst talk about what the citizens of Texas lose by not getting the opportunity to hear from both candidates on the issues.

Abbott’s withdrawal is called smart by Republicans and cowardly by Democrats but it’s really a disservice to the people of Texas. We should be exposed to both candidates and their ideas on how to best service our state. We should hear from them in their own words and not some script read for a 30 second television spot.

The real problem here is Greg Abbott isn’t confident he can win on the issues so he’d rather play it safe and hide until the election is over.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Lamar Smith fulfills Upton Sinclair's quote "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"

Congressman Lamar Smith’s August 9 letter “Funding NASA” makes the spurious claim that climate change research is part of a partisan agenda. Nothing could be further from the truth. Global climate change is the single most important threat to the future of mankind.

97% of climate scientists, not to be confused with the local TV weatherman, say that humans are the cause of most of the coming global climate change and we have the power to mitigate it. If 97 aerospace engineers told you that the airliner you were about to board would likely crash on the next flight and 3 paid by the airline said it wouldn’t; who would you believe?

Most of the scientists claiming that human caused global climate change is a hoax are paid for by the very industries contributing the most to the problem. These are the same people using the same techniques to obfuscate scientific truth who stymied action on leaded gasoline and the connection between tobacco use and lung cancer.

Learn the truth about how industry has poisoned our environment and our political system, read “Merchants of Doubt” by Professor Naomi Oreskes and historian Erik Conway.