Going forward, answers to must ask questions

There are fundamental questions going forward that every Texans must ask themselves in the coming months. The main question is do you approve of the status quo? While certain economic conditions are favorable in Texas, a the question must be asked who is really benefitting?

Most GOP elected leaders, when they speak about the economy in Texas, talk about things like low taxes, jobs, and the lack of regulations. Texas’ tax structure overwhelmingly benefits corporations, big business and the wealthy, and therefore makes it harder for poor, working, and middle class Texans to prosper. (See Who Pays Taxes in Texas?)

Anyone who approves of the status quo – those who benefitting from the current economic situation in Texas – will most certainly want to keep a post-Perry Texas looking pretty much like it does now. But those that are still struggling to get by, despite all of the “prosperity”, would rather see things change in a post-Perry Texas.

So while the economic news may be good for the corporations, big business, and the wealthy, it’s the rest of us that are struggling, Texas on the Brink.

In Texas today, the American dream is distant. Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured adults in the nation. Texas is dead last in percentage of high school graduates. Our state generates more hazardous waste and carbon dioxide emissions than any other state in our nation. If we do not change course, for the first time in our history, the Texas generation of tomorrow will be less prosperous than the generation of today.

Texas still has the highest rate without health insurance in the US, something the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion can have a significant impact on. Texas also has a very high rate of poverty. And the jobs that are being created, while welcome, far too many of don’t pay enough to support a family.

The bureau’s annual American Community Survey found that in 2012 about 4.5 million Texans lived in poverty, defined as an annual income of less than $18,480 a year for a family of three. Nationally, the percentage of people living in poverty stands at 15.9 percent. In 2000, Texas’ poverty rate was 15.1 percent.

“Even though Texas has relatively low unemployment, our workers are much more likely to be working in a job paying minimum wage or less compared to most other states,” said Francis Deviney, senior research associate at the Center for Public Policy Priorities, which advocates policies to reduce poverty. “Today, Texas invests an average of $5.78 per adult without a high school diploma/GED for adult basic education and literacy training, compared to $66.20 nationally. These programs are a critical first step to moving low-income Texans into careers that pay family-supporting wages.”

Census data backed up the link between education and poverty, with 30 percent of people without a high school diplomat living in poverty, while the rate was only 4.2 percent for those with a college degree.

And the inequality in Texas is disturbing and is most glaring in the public education system, Experts say state funding is creating inequitable educational environments.

In school districts across the state, classroom sizes have been increasing past state-recommended teacher-student ratios.

In the last legislative session, lawmakers cut $5.4 billion from the Texas education budget. In the wake of the cuts, school districts made sacrifices in various departments while struggling to keep up with the minimum education standards set by the state.

And experts now say that unless Texas figures out how to fund education in a more equitable manner, the state is in danger of creating an increasingly inequitable educational environment.

Executive Director Wayne Pierce of the Texas Equity Center said that the inequity among Texas school districts has become significantly worse in the past seven years since the state overhauled the system in 2006.

Pierce said there is inequity because the state does not fund all children at the same level at which the more powerful districts fund students. “The Legislature’s solution to this point has been to take care of some districts at the expense of children everywhere else.”

It was an education tax system that was overhauled in 2006 to protect business interests. Which created a multi-billion dollar structural budget deficit that allowed Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the tea party to gut public education of $5.4 billion dollars in 2011.

The fundamental question is do we want Texas to be a place where everyone can prosper? If we do, then we can’t continue with the status quo.

Further Reading and Viewing:

Democrats, especially in Texas, would be wise to run on something like this. (Via Digby).

Elements of Victory

Democrats win when they fight for Medicare, Social Security, and the middle class. That leads to economic victories. But Dems will face powerful inducements in coming months to compromise with the austerity economics crowd by agreeing to a menu of further spending cuts, destructive entitlement “reform,” and tax code tinkering that starves the government of needed revenue while protecting corporations and the wealthy.

Elected officials will need to hear from a mobilized public if we are to escape the grim and destructive debate they’ve planned for us. Our political discourse needs to shift away deficit mania and toward those policies the public wants and needs. They include:

  • truly progressive tax reform, in which the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share;

  • investment in jobs, growth, education, and our crumbling infrastructure;

  • a more just economy, with improved social mobility, wage growth for the middle class, and opportunities for every American to better themselves through education and hard work;

  • a line in the sand which protects Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and strengthens them for future generations;

  • a commitment to protect and defend the programs which care for the most vulnerable among us – children, families, and those who are most in need; and,

  • an end to any tax break which encourages American companies to send jobs overseas.

Jon Stewart Slams ‘Moocher’ States That Won’t Expand Medicaid.

“All but three of those 26 states they represent already take more money from the federal government than they contribute in tax dollars. They are already burdens on the systems,” he later added. “I believe they are referred to by those Republicans as moochers. Moocher states. And if statehood was health care, Mississippi and Missouri would be rejected as having that as a pre-existing condition.”

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