State Rep. Sylvester Turner
HOUSTON -Following a 2011 Session, where the Legislature passed a State budget for 2012-13 that included drastic cuts for such vital areas as public schools, healthcare funding, and care for our senior citizens among many others; it is quite deflating to hear Governor Perry walk the plank as he has done by laying out his “Budget Compact”. A “Budget Compact” which proposes additional draconian cuts, and no new sources of revenue is indeed backwards thinking.
With a Legislature that has watched over 12,000 teachers lose their jobs and more than $5.3 Billion cut from public education funding- how much more will the Governor cut from education? With a Legislature that scrapped the cap on class sizes- how many more kids will be crowded into classrooms before teachers and parents say “enough is enough”? How many more kids will have to drop-out of school or fail to graduate on time before we decide to focus on keeping our kids in school? By already reducing provider rates to over 40,000 senior citizens in nursing homes- how many nursing homes will have to close?
How many more seniors and those with intellectual disabilities will not be able to live independently in their communities? After already implementing a 10% provider cut to CHIP Mental Health providers- how many more children will go without healthcare? How many more doctors will decide to stop providing medical care for low income children before “enough is enough”? The question for the Governor is “what is left to cut”?
Over the years politicians have discovered that people have responded positively to the pledge or platform of No New Taxes without telling the people the full story. For too long, some politicians on one hand sign a pledge or endorse No New Taxes and with the other they take revenue from taxpayers intended for one purpose and use it to fund the very same government they rail about. That is why over $4 Billion sits in the State Treasury intended for trauma care, parks, seniors and low income electricity discounts (not being used for those purposes). Rather those dedicated accounts are used by the Governor and others to bolster their position of No New Taxes. Why raise taxes when you can redirect revenue intended for one purpose(s) to meet the general needs of the same State government? Is it conservative to take money from taxpayers for one purpose and use it for another?
On a final note, the Governor and Legislature modified the broad base business tax in 2006. It has under-performed since its inception because of unintended loopholes. The Governor and those who support him in the Legislature argue that to fix the problem would be the equivalent of raising taxes. When you move to correct something that was not intended and people argue that the correction violates a No Tax pledge or platform, we are trapped in a canyon with no exit. These loopholes are costing this State billions of dollars every year. Is it conservative not to correct your unintended mistake?
Ultimately the people of this State must decide what is in their best interests for both themselves and their children. It is imperative that they separate their interests from those who seek to retain their position and their power.