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Just When You Thought it Was Safe to Stop Talking About the Texas State Legislature…

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…a Special Session began.

Blame Senator Wendy Davis.  Or, thank Wendy Davis.  I suppose it depends on which side of the aisle you spend your time. Or, which side of the education issue you serve your loyalties.

As the twilight of the legislative session was coming to a close, in a stunning, out of the blue moment, Senator Wendy Davis from Fort Worth prevented the State of Texas from passing the constitutionally mandated balanced budget by staging a 79 minute filibuster to stall the legislature, letting time expire, and forcing the legislature into a special session.

Davis simply wanted the education bill that was being considered in the budget to have a thorough look by the legislature. Most people do not understand school funding — some of these people include the legislators that represent us.  Davis felt that the legislature should at least understand why education is losing $4 billion before they cast a single vote on the bill.  How is that for logic?  Governor Perry disagreed.

“We come here to work,” an irritated Perry said Monday as it was becoming clear that Davis had killed an off-kilter school finance bill with a late-Sunday filibuster. “We don’t come here to show horses.”

Remember, this is coming from a governor that felt sonogram and voter ID bills were “emergency legislation” instead of school funding or fixing the structural tax deficit that caused the shortfall in the first place. Not to mention that Governor Perry now has to spend another 30 days in Austin instead of on the presidential campaign trail. Senator Davis just put a kink in his summer plans.
Sadly, there are too many people in this state that just did not see that importance of what Senator Davis brought to the state.

Here are some comments from the Fort Worth Star Telegram:

IW – “Mo Money for education. We need more football Taj Mahall’s , administrators, Pre K (babysitting). Builder Bob Superintendents. The drop out rate will never change.”

LesleyPezley – “Teachers are overpaid. Most make $50K plus great benefits for a PART-TIME job.”

Slag – “Windy Davis most likely was following the advice on filibuster by one of her dumb democrats as she is not intelligent enough to know anything about a filibuster herself. As another poster has commented, she has ensured that the Dems will incur ever more losses in the special session.”

Now that we have a special session in Texas, we will all watch with great interest.  The drawback to this session is that the rules have changed and the majority will rule the session.  This means that anything that was voted down in regular session, or taken off the table, can be revisited. It also means that any unfinished business is also up for consideration.  However, all vote is now by majority rule. Republicans have the upper hand in both houses of the legislature.

The filibuster was a risk and saving education was worth the risk.
However, despite the drawbacks of the special session, there is one thing that Senator Davis gave to the public with her 79 minute speech…time. The Harvard graduate from Fort Worth had enough foresight to recognize that teachers, students, and parents will have a lot more time in the month of June to make their voices heard in Austin. She bought time for educators to stand up and fight for equitable school funding for Texas schools.

Take advantage of this gift that Senator Davis has given you.  Call your representatives, go to Austin, pay close attention to your teacher unions, organizations like Save Texas Schools, and make plans to let your voices be heard!  This is your chance to make a difference for Texas schools.

And if nothing changes in special session?:

The shortfall will still exist

Local school districts may have to resort to TREs for more revenue

Cuts in programs and jobs

Texas State Supreme Court steps in

Structural tax deficit will still exist or…

Cuts to education will be permanent every 2 years…$4 billion + $4 billion +$4 billion, etc…while school districts continue to grow each year.

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About DrJerryRBurkett

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Interesting article, but there are a few problems.

    First, Davis’ rather short filibuster was unnecessary because there was going to be a special session anyway. Education aside, there were too many other bills pending for Perry not to call one.

    Second, more time to address education funding is not productive. All it does is give unions more time to shamelessly try to bully voters, teachers and legislators to implement bad policy.

    Third, the response to the proposed cuts has been extremely informative. I doubt very much that legislators missed the fact that the proposed response from school districts to any cuts was to massively lay off teachers and make no cuts at all in administrative spending. That being the case, the changes Davis sees in this legislation may not be at all to her liking.

    With any luck, further debate on the education issue will result in legislation which mandates that cuts be made in administrative overhead rather than in salaries, facilities and classroom resources. I know that’s what I’ll be lobbying for.

    Dave

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dave –

    If the head of United Health Care was fired tomorrow and his salary were to be distributed to the workers, they wouldn’t see their lot improved much at all.

    And so it goes with “administrative cuts”. Do you really think that $4B worth of “administrative cuts” can be found? No, it won’t happen that way, and I don’t think you’re so naive to think it will. The cuts will be in teachers, in teachers’ pay, in what benefits they have…

    …and the children will pay, too, in terms of increased class sizes and decreased resources.

    There’s a reason why 25% of all teachers in Texas already hold second jobs….

    P.S. – what’s really a tragedy is that Texas Republicans see nothing wrong with slashing education to the bone, but still giving tax breaks for purchases of YACHTS that cost $250,000 or more:

    Under the current proposal, $7.8 billion will be cut from Texas public schools, four community colleges will close, 60,000 students will lose college financial aid, as many as 97,000 teachers and school employees will be laid off, 9,300 government jobs will be eliminated, Medicaid will be shortchanged by nearly $14 billion, and health and human services funding will plummet by a quarter.

    And that’s not all:

    The budget bill makes huge cuts to public education, nursing homes and health care for the poor. It slashes financing for highways, prisons and state parks. It eliminates full-day preschool, cuts teacher incentive pay and reduces scholarships for college students by two-thirds.

    But it’s okay to give tax breaks for buying yachts. This is MONSTROUS injustice, Dave…and it makes me sick to think that well-meaning people are actually buying into this crap, that it’s more important to give tax breaks for YACHTS than it is to give a child a full day of preschool.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    glenn, when administrative costs make up about 50% of total budget for a school system then if you can make up the 10% you need from teacher salaries you can certainly make it up from administrative costs or administrator salaries just as easily.

    And to counter your silly yacht argument, that tax break has a demonstrable effect in creating jobs and a tax cut for a few yacht buyers has the same effect on the general taxpaying population as taking away the salary of one CEO does on his workers. In both cases it takes a more systematic change to produce real results.

    Dave

  • Leroy

    3-Dave: please demonstrate how “…that tax break has a demonstrable effect in creating jobs…”, please.

  • Clavos

    3-Dave: please demonstrate how “…that tax break has a demonstrable effect in creating jobs…”, please.

    I work in the yachting industry, so let me see if I can help Dave out a little here.

    Very simple: it increases sales of yachts, which, in turn, creates jobs for:

    Yacht brokers (of which I am one)
    Mechanics
    Marina staff
    Crew
    Electricians
    Plumbers
    Electronics techs
    Electronics manufacturing employees
    Carpenters
    Fiberglass Techs
    Steel fabricators
    Painters
    Retail (marine) store employees
    Divers (cleaning boat bottoms)
    Secretaries (at all the above firms)
    Truck drivers (hauling boats from factory to market)
    Computer techs
    Insurance agents
    Insurance adjusters
    Insurance underwriter employees
    Bank loan officers and their support staffs
    Magazine (there are dozens of boating magazines) editors, writers, ad sales people and general staff
    Magazine printer workers

    And so forth…this list is only partial.

    For the state of Florida, the yacht business is third in revenue, behind only agriculture and tourism. In Broward county (Ft. Lauderdale) alone, annual revenue volume of yacht and yacht-related business exceeds $10 billion annually while statewide, the yachting industry generates nearly $17 billion.

    Total yachting and yachting related employment in Florida is more than 200,000:

    “In 2010, despite incredible economic challenges, Florida’s yacht brokerages represented a whopping 20 percent of all yachts sold worldwide ($1.3 billion in sales), resulting in more than 202,000 jobs and an estimated $16.8 billion in total marine product sales throughout the state’s marine industry.”

    I’ve run out time to research and so far was unable to find hard data for Texas; it’s certain to be less than Florida, but probably also growing faster than Florida.

    One last point: ownership of a yacht, exclusive of debt service, costs about 10 percent of the purchase price per year, so a a boat costing $300,000 (relatively modest as yachts go) will cost $30,000 annually, exclusive of debt service (if any). That’s $30,000 worth of purchase of goods and services, the production of which involves dozens of people’s jobs.

  • Leroy

    No demonstration of how the tax BREAK creates jobs. Everything cited is just about current employees.

    One might as easily guess that “Leroys Ferrari Project” would affect many worthy job holders.

    Running tax subsidy money through a rich mans toy budget is a poor way to subsidize plumbers and mechanics – the overhead is too high. One would be better advised to give the money, and it is a gift, directly to the plumbers and mechanics, especially the unemployed. Yet, at every turn we frustrate unemployment insurance and impose restrictions, while loosening up luxury subsidies.

    I haven’t seen a demonstration that a yacht tax break has any demonstrable effect on employment of those worthies, but the subsidy does save a yacht buyer real money. That’s a direct and measureable savings, and I’m sure that the yacht buyer knows exactly how much it is and brags about it to his golf friends.

    Can any plumber or mechanic point to how he’s profited from the yacht subsidy?

    The yacht purchase subsidy is a DIRECT gift to capital to attempt an INDIRECT subsidy to labor. It’s a remnant of the dubious trickle-down theory.

    It’s a tax collected from workers by owners. It’s a wealth redistribution to the wealthy from everyone else.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Oh, wow – Clavos just ‘proved’ that it really IS better to give tax breaks for yachts than it is to pay teachers well!

    C’mon, Clavos – putting the teachers under the bus (which is precisely what Texas is doing, since 25% of the teachers there ALREADY moonlight because they don’t get paid much) might make fiscal sense for this year…but it makes NO sense for what will happen ten, twenty, thirty years down the pike, because then Texas will be dealing with a generation of kids whose education will be significantly and adversely affected by this decision.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dave –

    glenn, when administrative costs make up about 50% of total budget for a school system then if you can make up the 10% you need from teacher salaries you can certainly make it up from administrative costs or administrator salaries just as easily.

    Dave, that’s a false argument. Do you really think that “administrative costs” refers only to ADMINISTRATORS????

    Apparently you have no clue what comprises those ‘administrative costs’. Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of the Texas school budget:

    Busing: 6%
    Building maintenance: 9%
    Building utilities: 3%
    Security and Nursing staff: 2:
    Instructional aides (not teachers) and supplies: 9%
    State curriculum and specific training: 3%
    Lunch: 5%
    Libraries: 2%
    Guidance counselors and preparatory materials: 4%
    Organizational and support staff: 5%
    District-level staff: 3%

    And the teachers? They’re 49%.

    So where, oh where will the cuts come from? They’ll come from the biggest slice of the pie…the TEACHERS. It’s sheer naivete to think otherwise. Those cuts will come from the teachers despite the fact that 25% of Texas teachers ALREADY moonlight…which DOES have a negative effect on their ability to teach children.

  • Clavos

    Leroy:

    No demonstration of how the tax BREAK creates jobs.

    Sorry, Leroy. I thought spelling out the obvious would insult everyone’s intelligence, but apparently not in your case, since you are asking me to do so.

    The tax break in Texas will greatly stimulate the market in yachts, as it did here in Florida when a similar tax break was adopted about a year ago. As in any industry, when demand goes up for the product, industry must hire more people in order to meet the increased demand. That occurred here in Florida. Texas, seeing that that the tax break was benefiting Florida, decided to implement its own.

  • Clavos

    Oh, wow – Clavos just ‘proved’ that it really IS better to give tax breaks for yachts than it is to pay teachers well!

    Don’t be tiresome, Glenn. I know you love hyperbole and putting words in other people’s mouths; and of course, as a fervent liberal, you embrace the classic scarce thinking of liberals to set up strawman either-or scenarios but in doing so, you just look foolish, not intelligent.

    I never mentioned anything about teachers, much less in the context of sacrificing them in favor of tax breaks on anything. And there is no reason why Texas cannot enact the tax break, which is a proven (here in Florida) boost to the state’s economy and improve their educational system in whatever way they determine is necessary (and of course what they do about their educational system is Texas’ decision).

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    One, you did not say anything about teachers – I’ll take the hit on that.

    Two, tax breaks for luxury item purchases can help, as is shown by the success of the Cash for Clunkers and the first-time home buyers tax credit programs.

    Three, sometimes I am an idiot. That’s two fairly major rants I made in one day (yesterday) that were way off the mark. Maybe today I’ll be a bit saner.

  • Leroy

    Still no demonstration of jobs being created by the yacht tax break subsidy. No demonstration of even one job being created. No demonstration of even one dollar more going to a plumber or mechanic.

    And yet, I bet every new yacht buyer can tell his golf buddies exactly how much money he saved with the yacht subsidy. To the dollar.

    The yacht subsidy is simply Wealth Redistribution to the rich.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    By “structural tax deficit” it appears that you mean something like “the rest of your money that we haven’t taken for our unions yet.” I mean, c’mon, I know you’ve still got a dollar, dude. Give it to me. No? Why do you hate The Children so much?

    Also, with due respect, what the HELL is a doctorate in “Educational Leadership”? What is the topic here? Now, it may be that I’m just a paranoid rightwing nutjob, but this sounds suspiciously like some pinko nonsense, much like “women’s studies” or “GLBT studies” or other such foolishness.

  • Cannonshop

    #12 Leroy, how many people do you know are rich enough to afford a yacht, and mechanically adept enough to MAINTAIN IT? Marine engines have special care needs that your automobile doesn’t HAVE. Marine engine specialists usually START anywhere from 20 to 50% higher wages than non-marine specialists, with a premium on Diesel guys- and Diesel’s rather popular with the yacht set, since it doesn’t run out of gas as quickly, allowing them to enjoy their cruises longer and further.

    The repair, layup and finishing of hulls is also a fairly high (for a non-college graduate job) paying field that is also specialized to support a rather narrow market (boats, Leroy. it’s not like patching your car.) There’s marine electrics too-boats don’t ground the way your house does, or your automobile (unless you drive a Jag, in which case you already know about Lucas-prince-of-darkness electrics, the reason Brit beer is warm is that Lucas also makes refrigerators…), and while the cosmetics are similar, the actual systems for the potable water and toilet on a yacht are rather different from your average motor home, much less your HOUSE.

    All of these end up being requirements that employ people-either keeping jobs in place, or adding to them depending on sales. (rich people, unlike College Professors, or “Education Leaders”, actually take care of their shit-or more particularly, hire other people to take care of their shit, usually for more money depending on how complex and expensive that shit is, and how much perceived enjoyment that shit gives them. Yachts are prestigious, and I’ve been told, rather fun, but they’re also B.O.A.T., which stands for “Bring out another Thousand”, or “A hole in the water, into which money is poured in the futile effort known as “Maintenance”.)

    A couple guys I work with (new guys) used to work for Meridian (which used to be Bayliner), they lost their jobs because the market (in the middle of the “Boom” years) was gutted…by a luxury tax that collapsed sales.

    They were making about 20 bucks an hour just doing fiberglass and plumbing on boats.

    Now they’re making about seventeen after three years of dancing from oddjob to oddjob, building airplanes (New Hires start lower than those of us who’ve been at Boeing a while…)

    otoh, one of the sons of another co-worker’s starting salary as a marine diesel mechanic (at twenty y/o) is over thirty bucks an hour-and he can, after he’s established his name, make MORE.

    lesson is: rich people will buy it in your state, from americans, if they aren’t being punished for doing so with more taxes. When they do, they’ll end up having to pay someone (unless they’re REALLy good at tinkering) to keep it running and looking good, and the market says….

    The wages for that are pretty damn good if you can get the work.

    Problem of course, is you need rich people buying the yachts before the good-paying jobs hire more than enough to handle the declining demand.