Posts Tagged ‘Budget’
Green Party of the US endorses, joins ‘October 2011’ protest against the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and 2012 austerity budgetWednesday, September 28th, 2011
In a press release sent to Green Party Watch, the Green Party of the United States endorsed plans to engage in a long term protest in Washington DC. Echoing the call from October2011.org, the press release quotes Sanda Everette of California.
“In making this endorsement, we’re challenging the dangerous political direction of the US. [...]
Green Party Watch
Texas is well known for its harsh handling of criminals given Texas has been the most active in carrying out executions, among the states where the death penalty is permitted. But, in one small Texas town the Mayor has warned residents to “Bolt Your Doors” as they are left to defend their own homes against criminals after State budget cuts passed by the 2011 Legislature forced Alto, Texas to lay off its entire police force:
Alto, Texas is preparing for a crime wave, after the small East Texas town put its entire police force on furlough…
In an effort to save money, the city has laid off its police chief and four police officers for six months — longer if Alto’s finances don’t improve.
Alto residents have every reason to fear a rise in crime will follow the police force’s departure. The town’s per-capita crime rate is already above the state average. There were 66 crimes in Alto last year, compared to 51 the previous year.
“Everybody’s talking about ‘bolt your doors, buy a gun,’ ” said Monty Collins, Alto’s mayor, who opposed the City Council vote to furlough police officers.
Kelly Curry, the manager of an off-road-vehicle park, now carries two guns for self-defense. “The thought that we could be 35 or 40 minutes from getting the sheriff’s deputy here, depending on where they are in the county, is scary,” she says.
To close a historic billion budget deficit, Gov. Rick Perry (R) and the Republican-controlled legislature have made draconian cuts to state services and have passed the buck to city governments across the state to make impossible decisions about which essential expenditures to cut. Alto, for instances, faces a 5,000 budget deficit.
The Wall Street Journal notes that the closure of small-town police forces “is part of a broader consolidation of services in communities across the U.S.” It’s a problem because like fire departments and other essential services, “keeping the peace is rarely a revenue-making operation.”
I love horses. But you know that there is something wrong with the federal government when horses get better treatment than the average American taxpayer. Yes, you read that right: horses. Sen. Jeff Merkley, a freshman Democrat from Oregon, trekked to the Senate floor to expose and denounce a special federal tax giveaway for thoroughbred racehorses.
This “Bluegrass Boondoggle,” Merkley notes, allows millionaire and billionaire racehorse owners to write off the cost of their horses in an accelerated manner, reducing the normal seven-year period for write-off to just three years. This one goodie for the special interests will end up costing U.S. taxpayers, over the course of the coming years, 6 million. “Horse racing may have been called the ‘sport of kings,’ but that doesn’t mean that the owners of horses, those millionaires and billionaires owning those horses, need royal tax treatment,” the senator wisely points out. Merkley’s also correct that saving 6 million alone won’t solve the deficit problem.
The truth is, though, that the Bluegrass Boondoggle isn’t unique. There are some 180 special tax giveaways just like it, according to former senator Alan Simpson, a conservative Republican from Wyoming. For his fellow Republicans to be protecting them now against repeal in the face of deficit-reduction is “ludicrous,” he says. “They‘re spending by any other name. They‘re really earmarks if you want to use that terrible word,” Simpson admits.
You can call them something else, too: welfare for the wealthy. Simpson, who also co-chaired President Obama’s bipartisan deficit commission, found that only 10 percent of the American public, the wealthiest people in America, use these special loopholes because, he says, “they‘re the ones who can hire the best lobbyists, go to the finance committee. The little guy had no idea of what they are. It meant nothing to him,” the former senator adds. “He does the standard deduction and walks away. We found the top 400 income earners in the United States paid an average of 16 percent income tax. And it‘s absolutely absurd.”
But even if the horse credit were the only such expenditure on the books, and we could save only 6 million, even then it would be worth killing the awful deduction. Because this: You have to save that 6 million from somewhere, and if not from the horses, then it will come from children cut off from Head Start. Or senior citizens who won’t get the food stamps they need anymore; or some other program that serves us average Americans.
Lower income and middle class Americans are taxpayers, too. And we deserve to see real value and services for the taxes we must pay. We see that value in student loans, and Medicare, and home-heating assistance. I have yet to meet a horse who’s paid a dime in taxes. We deserve to continue to have access to government services more than horses are entitled to government welfare.
Simpson, apparently however, didn’t want to get caught beating up on his own party too much. In his interview the other evening, he quickly took Obama and Democrats to task for portraying Republicans as if they “don’t care about kids and old people and veterans, that is the most disruptive, disgusting thing.” I hope Sen. Simpson is right about his fellow conservatives wanting to help kids and seniors, and vets. But, I tell Republicans, you must prove it. Choose children and the unemployed and senior citizens of modest means over horses and the rich guys who own them.
Otherwise, it will be you who are put out to pasture.
Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade. Capitol Idea is his regular column from Washington. This article was first published as In Federal Budget Debate, let There be no Sacred Cows; or Sacred Horses on Blogcritics.
THE PARTIES, THE PRESIDENT AND THE BUDGET
- GOP presidential field sees budget wars from afar (AP) In the absence of a Republican president or clear-cut party leader, a little-known congressman from Wisconsin seized the initiative. Backed by most House Republicans, Rep. Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, wrote a far-reaching spending plan that right away framed the debate on Capitol Hill.
- Budget deal foreshadows larger fight ahead – The last-minute resolution on 2011 was a victory for Republicans, and helped President Obama preserve his standing. But the wrangling offers little hope for an easy resolution to the next fight: lifting the U.S. debt ceiling. (By Paul West, Washington Bureau, LA Times)
Gerrymandering Lawsuit Brings New Scrutiny To Governor’s Use Of Budget Extenders (City Hall News – New York) This most recent case pits the Department of Corrections and the Legislative Task Force on Redistricting, also known as LATFOR, against a number of prominent Senate Republicans. The defendants have until April 24 to answer the complaint. If the case goes to court and the ability to append non-budget related bills is taken away, the Legislature could regain some power from the governor, Lane said.
Daisy Deadhead, a Green Party member in Greenville SC, has posted a number of photos of a Green Party endorsed “Rally for a Moral Budget” at her blog, Daisy’s Dead Air. The hour long demonstration was held at the State House in Columbia, SC. To see them, please click here
The Center for Public Policy Priorities today released some devastating county-by-county analysis of the state budget cuts proposed by Gov. Perry and the Republican controlled legislature:
|Impact By School District
- Public Education Analysis
- Higher Education Analysis
- Health and Human Services Analysis
- Medicaid Spending Losses Analysis
The public education analysis projects that as many as 189,000+ public education jobs will be eliminated in Texas. Almost 14,000 public education jobs may be eliminated in Collin Co.
The state is short billion, more than one-quarter of the state’s discretionary budget, of which about 91 percent is consumed by public schools, higher education, and health and human services.
Texas already spends less per capita than almost any other state, but Senate Finance Chair Steve Ogden — a Republican who Rick Perry has described as the smartest budget man he knows, and someone he implicitly trusts with the budget — warned today the proposed budge cuts will “decimate public education.“
Texas Republicans would rather put our children’s future at risk than allow corporations to pay their fair share to help build the well educated workforce Texas businesses need to prosper in the future.
Texas Observer: Gov. Rick Perry has repeatedly said Texas’ deficit is “reflective of the national recession’s lingering impact on state revenue.”
In fact, the recession has little to do with the billion budget shortfall. Back in 2006 the Republican controlled Legislature concocted a Rube Goldberg-style [school funding and business tax reform] measure that simultaneously cut property taxes, implemented a new “margins” tax on business and rejiggered the way public schools are financed.
Problem was, as the state Legislative Budget Board pointed out at the time, the plan’s math didn’t wash because the margins tax wouldn’t bring in as much as the Legislature thought. In fact, the board said, it would leave a billion hole in the state budget every year.
The upshot: Perry, who pushed the swap, knew full well he was helping to create today’s “crisis.”
Star-Telegram: A 68-page report released by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs on Monday reveals that Texas will give business .2 billion worth of tax exemptions for sales, franchise, and gasoline and motor vehicle sales taxes for the 2011 fiscal year that ends on Aug. 31, 2011.
Exemptions to the state sales tax, the state’s biggest source of revenue, will total .8 billion for the current fiscal year, Combs said, although some items exempted from the sales tax are taxed from other sources. Gasoline tax exemptions will amount to 3 million. Motor vehicle sales tax exemptions will total 5 million.
“While sales and use tax collections totaled .6 billion in fiscal 2010,” Combs said, “the tax is limited in scope when compared with the total number and kind of transactions in the economy, because of various exemptions and exclusions,” Combs said.
A number of lawmakers are calling for the elimination of at least some exemptions to boost revenue and help offset deep service reductions proposed in preliminary draft budgets. Others say canceling the breaks amounts to a tax increase, which Gov. Rick Perry and Republican legislative leaders have vowed to oppose.
Read more at the Star-Telegram
NYTimes OpEd “Leaving Children Behind” by Paul Krugman:
Consider, as a case in point, what’s happening in Texas, which more and more seems to be where America’s political future happens first.
Texas likes to portray itself as a model of small government, and indeed it is. Taxes are low, at least if you’re in the upper part of the income distribution (taxes on the bottom 40 percent of the population are actually above the national average). Government spending is also low. And to be fair, low taxes may be one reason for the state’s rapid population growth, although low housing prices are surely much more important.
But here’s the thing: While low spending may sound good in the abstract, what it amounts to in practice is low spending on children, who account directly or indirectly for a large part of government outlays at the state and local level.
And in low-tax, low-spending Texas, the kids are not all right. The high school graduation rate, at just 61.3 percent, puts Texas 43rd out of 50 in state rankings. Nationally, the state ranks fifth in child poverty; it leads in the percentage of children without health insurance. And only 78 percent of Texas children are in excellent or very good health, significantly below the national average.
But wait — how can graduation rates be so low when Texas had that education miracle back when former President Bush was governor? Well, a couple of years into his presidency the truth about that miracle came out: Texas school administrators achieved low reported dropout rates the old-fashioned way — they, ahem, got the numbers wrong.
It’s not a pretty picture; compassion aside, you have to wonder — and many business people in Texas do — how the state can prosper in the long run with a future work force blighted by childhood poverty, poor health and lack of education.
But things are about to get much worse.
A few months ago another Texas miracle went the way of that education miracle of the 1990s. For months, Gov. Rick Perry had boasted that his “tough conservative decisions” had kept the budget in surplus while allowing the state to weather the recession unscathed. But after Mr. Perry’s re-election, reality intruded — funny how that happens — and the state is now scrambling to close a huge budget gap. (By the way, given the current efforts to blame public-sector unions for state fiscal problems, it’s worth noting that the mess in Texas was achieved with an overwhelmingly nonunion work force.)
So how will that gap be closed? Given the already dire condition of Texas children, you might have expected the state’s leaders to focus the pain elsewhere. In particular, you might have expected high-income Texans, who pay much less in state and local taxes than the national average, to be asked to bear at least some of the burden.
But you’d be wrong. Tax increases have been ruled out of consideration; the gap will be closed solely through spending cuts. Medicaid, a program that is crucial to many of the state’s children, will take the biggest hit, with the Legislature proposing a funding cut of no less than 29 percent, including a reduction in the state’s already low payments to providers — raising fears that doctors will start refusing to see Medicaid patients. And education will also face steep cuts, with school administrators talking about as many as 100,000 layoffs.
The really striking thing about all this isn’t the cruelty — at this point you expect that — but the shortsightedness. What’s supposed to happen when today’s neglected children become tomorrow’s work force?
Anyway, the next time some self-proclaimed deficit hawk tells you how much he worries about the debt we’re leaving our children, remember what’s happening in Texas, a state whose slogan right now might as well be “Lose the future.”
|More about the proposed budget:|
TEXAS HOUSE RELEASES PROPOSED BUDGET WITH NO NEW TAXES AND WITHOUT TAPPING THE RAINY DAY FUND.
In education the proposed budget slashes public school funding and cuts at least 60,000 college students from financial aid.
The proposed budget drafted by the Legislative Budget Board will slash an additional .8 billion from public school funding, while the student population is projected to grow by at least 80,000 students each year. Further, an estimated 109,000 children will be cut from Pre-Kindergarten early start programs and 83,000 children will be cut from the Early Childhood School Ready program. Under current funding levels, Texas ranks 44th nationally in education funding per pupil, is last in the percentage of adults obtaining a high school diploma.
In the Medicaid program, the proposed budget slashes overall spending by nearly 30 percent, cut services for adults that federal law doesn’t require states to offer and cut 10 percent, in addition to last spring’s 1 percent cut, from reimbursements to doctors, dentists, hospitals and nursing homes. The proposed budget also cut Nursing Facility payments by .57 billion dollars, which will have a tremendous impact on residents in Texas’ nursing homes.
In public safety and corrections programs, the proposed budget closes a correctional facility in Sugar Land, three Texas Youth Commission correctional facility and 2,000 private prison beds, a move that could close at least two additional correctional facilities and cut 1,562 prison jobs. Probation programs would see funding cut by 20 percent, parole supervision would be cut by almost 9 percent, and the construction and public safety and correctional facility maintenance funding will be cut by 83 percent, along with 90 jobs. And, the Victims Services Division would be eliminated.
State Senator Wendy Davis
(D-10 Fort Worth)
State Senator Wendy Davis (D-10 Fort Worth) said late Tuesday night, after the budget draft was delivered, that the budget draft by the Legislative Budget Board released earlier was wrong for Texas. Full Article at Capitol Annex:
Senator Wendy Davis said the first draft of Texas’ 2012-13 budget is wrong for Texas.
The Legislative Budget Board’s budget proposal released to House members last night will cut .1 billion from current spending, even before accounting for population growth.
The budget, drafted for House leadership, will slash education funding by .8 billion, while the student population is projected to grow by 80,000 students each year.
Several primary and secondary education programs are recommended for elimination, including: pre-k early start grants; Texas reading, math and science initiatives; criminal history background reviews; and science labs. Higher education is slated to lose .7 billion in funding including significant cuts to the Texas Equalization Grants and Texas Grants programs –state-funded financial aid.
Other budget recommendations include reducing prison populations through early release of prisoners, cutting Medicaid reimbursements to doctors, hospitals and nursing home by 10 percent, and eliminating family practice and rural public health physician rotations.
”With such a dramatic budget shortfall, cuts must be made,” Davis said. “But education funding should be our highest priority. We need to ensure that Texans are adequately educated so that we do not lose competitive ground at a critical time in our nation’s economic recovery.”
Under current funding levels, Texas is already near the bottom in education funding per pupil (Texas ranks 44th nationally), is last nationally in the percentage of adults with a high school diploma, and is among the bottom in high school completion rates across the country.
“While other states are competing for dollars to race to the top in education funding, Texas, under this budget recommendation, will be sprinting to the bottom,” Davis said.
Davis said that any proposed budget that does not address the structural deficit in education funding, created in 2005 when lawmakers turned to an under-performing business franchise tax, will push the current biennial shortfall in public education funding of about billion into future budgets indefinitely.
”We have to have an honest and transparent conversation about the education funding shortfall, which is cheating our schoolchildren while simultaneously overburdening small and medium sized businesses in Texas,” Davis said.
Davis said that as cuts are proposed to strip critical services to educate our children and to address some of the state’s most vulnerable, lawmakers should do what they can to lessen that burden in other ways.
Protecting Texans’ pocketbooks through lowering homeowners insurance rates, lowering residential electricity rates and by establishing fair rules to prevent the devastating impacts of predatory lending should also be considered, Davis said.
Regardless of the bleak budget picture, Davis called on fellow lawmakers to work to positively change course for future Texas families and to address other issues that will have a very real impact on their household finances and their quality of life.
“Saddle bags” by Nick Anderson – Houston Chronicle
New assessments, obtained by The Dallas Morning News after a recent huddle of senior legislative staff members, show that even if lawmakers decide to spend all billion in the state’s rainy day fund, they still would need to come up with almost billion more to close the gap - through some combination of spending cuts, accounting tricks and new taxes or fees.
The figures, prepared by staff at the Legislative Budget Board and then tweaked by House leadership, show the situation has deteriorated since spring.
In May, Pitts, the House’s chief budget writer, drew derision from some GOP leaders when he said the shortfall could be between billion and billion. Perry said someone had “reached up in the air and grabbed” the figure.
The latest figures, though, show the gap as high as .6 billion.
Revenue is not rebounding quickly from the economic downturn, as Comptroller Susan Combs predicted it would. Population is expected to keep growing rapidly, which swells demand for education and social services, already high because of the recession.
You can watch a video clip here where Rick Perry say that “I’ve got a lot of confidence in this comptroller.” [Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Republican Susan Combs] He goes on to say, “I don’t necessarily think it’s a particularly good use of the comptrollers time to do a budget estimate every time someone pokes their head up out of a hole and says ‘let’s do a budget estimate.” It’s quite obvious Rick Perry does not want his controller to release a budget report that shows a billion budget deficit any time before the election, as the truth about Texas’ fiscal health is clearly detrimental to Governor Perry’s re-election bid. Politifact verifies claims from Democratic opponent Bill White that our state’s debt has doubled under Rick Perry. When he assumed office in December 2000, Texas held .7 billion in debt. Adjusting for inflation, that’s today’s equivalent of .6 billion. As of August 2009, we held .08 billion in debt. Rick Perry has more than doubled our state’s debt, even after you adjust for inflation. Perry also claims he’s cut state spending as well, but it’s actually increased 45%. He’s claimed to have vetoed billion worth of spending, when, in truth, .5 billion of that never was passed into law anyway and would not have been spent, regardless of his ‘veto’. Despite all of the above proof that our Governor has failed miserably as a steward of our state’s fiscal matters, he’s running ads claiming
You can watch a video clip here where Rick Perry say that “I’ve got a lot of confidence in this comptroller.” [Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Republican Susan Combs] He goes on to say, “I don’t necessarily think it’s a particularly good use of the comptrollers time to do a budget estimate every time someone pokes their head up out of a hole and says ‘let’s do a budget estimate.” It’s quite obvious Rick Perry does not want his controller to release a budget report that shows a billion budget deficit any time before the election, as the truth about Texas’ fiscal health is clearly detrimental to Governor Perry’s re-election bid.
Politifact verifies claims from Democratic opponent Bill White that our state’s debt has doubled under Rick Perry. When he assumed office in December 2000, Texas held .7 billion in debt. Adjusting for inflation, that’s today’s equivalent of .6 billion. As of August 2009, we held .08 billion in debt. Rick Perry has more than doubled our state’s debt, even after you adjust for inflation.
Perry also claims he’s cut state spending as well, but it’s actually increased 45%.
He’s claimed to have vetoed billion worth of spending, when, in truth, .5 billion of that never was passed into law anyway and would not have been spent, regardless of his ‘veto’.
Despite all of the above proof that our Governor has failed miserably as a steward of our state’s fiscal matters, he’s running ads claiming
that, “the economic success Texas is experiencing because of the leadership and pro-growth policies put into place by Governor Rick Perry. The keys to success? Don’t spend all the money. Keep taxes low. Keep regulations fair and predictable. Tort reform to prevent frivolous and junk lawsuits. Fund an accountable education system. Then get out of the way and let entrepreneurs and the private sector do what the private sector does best– create jobs. Since 2005, Texas has created far more private-sector jobs than all over states combined.”
We Texans here in Collin County know Perry’s political ad claims are half-truths, slanted estimates, and flat out lies.
No wonder Gov Perry is too chicken to debate Bill White. He’s tanked our state’s fiscal health with one hand and written a book about what a great fiscal conservative he is with the other. In one breath he claims there is no budget crisis in Texas and then he claims Texas’ has a financial crisis caused by the Obama administration.
Houstonians, who re-elected Bill White as mayor with 91% and then later, 86% of the vote, were proud to call him our mayor. It’s time for Collin County to elect a Texas Governor in which we can again be proud. Visit Bill White for Texas and read about his accomplishments with the city of Houston that includes job growth and balancing budgets.