Texas' past legislative session produced 1,000 new laws going into effect this month that deal with everything from teen drivers to a resolution outlawing gay marriage and civil unions, according to the Dallas Morning News . But once again lawmakers failed to do anything about the one issue voters and the Texas Supreme Court have repeatedly asked them to address: school finance.
It's disgusting that for the second straight year--three times and two special sessions this year alone--the lead ership has shown it is completely incapable of putting aside partisan politics to benefit the state. So again schools go forward cash-strapped while House Speaker Tom Craddick, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Gov. Rick Perry wash their hands of it: Craddick ran TV ads effectively saying it's not his fault. Dewhurst blamed the petrochemical industry because--Surprise!--it didn't want to be taxed. And Perry called for schools to put 65 cents of every dollar into classroom instruction. The very money he couldn't even get the legislature to provide in the first place.
Texas schools are funded through local property taxes and state aid. The state's share in the $33 billion-a-year system has slipped to a mere 37 percent of the total. Meanwhile, property taxes have soared. Fixing school finance is no easy task, of course. In fact, it's a task that's going to hurt. To fix it, Texas is either going to have to tax more businesses or say hello to a state income tax.
Either way, I hope the people it winds up hurting the most are Craddick, Dewhurst and Perry. Their ridiculous inability to get anything done clearly shows that their greatest interest is self-interest. They'd rather save their political behinds than make tough decisions to address the state problems. Some might say that's just a politician's way, but I say voters know what to do with politicians like that.