Friday, January 27, 2017

Dan Patrick's $8.5 billion Bathroom Bill a Distraction

The Texas legislature is now in session and the first thing Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wants to talk about isn’t spurring the economy even though the state has fallen from third to twenty-first in economic strength since 2013. No, instead he wants to talk about his $8.5 billion bathroom bill that the cost the state 185,000 jobs according to a study by the Texas Association of Business.

The Bathroom Bill is a Republican distraction, Patrick and his followers are using fear to take the public’s eye off their record of incompetence. The Texas Comptroller announced that tax revenues are expected to fall during this two year budget period so there won’t be as much money available this legislative session.

We all know that Republicans never want to be seen raising taxes so that means there will be cuts; once again we’re likely to see public education take a hit. Consider that while the legislature did increase public school funding a little in the last cycle it has yet fully restore what it cut in 2011. Now they’re going to cut again, we could be back to a 2011 style budget where thousands of Texas teachers lost their jobs.

Senator Donna Campbell will once again push her school voucher bill in an effort to gut public education in Texas. No matter what she and voucher supporters say it’s really just a way to provide discounts to rich people who already send their kids to private schools and turn a public service in to profits for private businesses. Private schools aren’t required to provide bus service so not every child is able to attend them and they aren’t accountable for the quality of the education provided. Private school students don’t even have to take the standardized tests administered to public schools so their performance can’t even be compared.

Campbell is sure to claim once again that her bill will save the state money because it doesn’t use all the money allocated per child in the public system but that just means that it’s even less useful to middle class and low income parents who can’t afford to subsidize their children’s education. Will John Kuempel stand up for Seguin and the rest of Guadalupe county school children and say NO?

There will surely be cuts to other agencies that provide services the public relies on. The only question is which agencies will see budget cuts and how deep they will be?

Then there’s Out on Bond Ken Paxton, the man who is supposed to be the state’s chief law enforcement office but will spend the next few months preparing for a trial that could see him got jail for 99 years. He’ll be too busy fighting a legal battle to save his life to actually do the job for which he was elected. If the man had any character at all he’d resign so that the citizens of Texas could get the law enforcement services our tax dollars are paying for. Of course that would mean he’d no longer be able to take donations from rich people to pay for his legal defense. Or let me rephrase that he’d no longer get those donations because we wouldn’t be in a position to return the favor.

 Published in the Seguin Gazette January 20, 2017

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