Texas teachers suffered enormous layoffs in the 82nd Texas legislative session due to budget cuts which specifically targeted them instead of cutting the bloated bureaucracies and wasteful administrative costs. With most Texas school districts already in debt and facing budget shortfalls, they began to let teachers go. Corrupt liberal legislators like Jim Pitts put on a great show as they pretended to pass a conservative budget, but this was all just a show. Moreover, it was an integral part of a bigger plan which will lead to an attempt to bring legalized gambling to Texas.
One look at the 2009/2010 campaign contribution list for Jim Pitts and it’s easy to see that proponents of gambling want something from him. One of his top contributors is Tilman Fertitta, owner of Landry’s Restaurants and the Golden Nugget Casino and Hotel, who donated $10,000 to Pitts’ campaign. Pitts has also voted consistently to elect and re-elect the RINO, Joe Straus, to Speaker of the House. Straus’ family is deeply involved in the horse racing industry and stands to make a lot of money if gambling is legalized in Texas. In fact, there are many elected officials in Texas who are in on this scheme and their campaign finance reports prove it.
Before the 82nd legislative session, the Texas legislature had accrued over $9 billion in its Rainy Day Fund. The fund, which was established in 1989, was created to prevent or eliminate temporary cash deficiencies in general revenue. It is replenished each year by taxes from oil and natural gas sold in Texas. Tea Party groups and conservative organizations across Texas strongly opposed tapping into the Rainy Day Fund and they demanded that necessary spending cuts be made in order to balance the 2012-13 budget. The Fund was indeed tapped, but not for the 2012-13 budget. About $3.2 billion was used for the deficit in the current year. Instead of cutting wasteful spending for the next budget, however, Texas lawmakers decided to go after teachers. They knew that if high numbers of teachers lost their jobs it would turn them and many parents against the Tea Party movement. I have already talked to a few local teachers who oppose the Tea Party because they think the Tea Party is responsible for the layoffs. Politicians figured out a long time ago that if they can turn citizen against citizen, it keeps the blame and the pressure off of them.
As for the $6 billion remaining in the fund, Pitts and his cohorts resorted to tactics like delaying a $2.3 billion payment to schools by one day in order to technically push it into the next fiscal year. They also ordered state accountants to forecast a more rapid growth in land values to show more property tax income. The budget, written by Pitts, also assumes that there will be no growth in the public school system in 2012-13. To add insult to injury, Medicaid is only going to be funded through spring of 2013, so there’s going to be a $4.8 billion shortfall. So, essentially, the remaining money in the Rainy Day Fund has already been spent…lawmakers just won’t have to admit it until January of 2013.
When January of 2013 rolls around, Texas will be faced with another budget shortfall, a Rainy Day Fund with nothing in it, and a school system that is already in really bad shape. What do you think their solution will be? It should be obvious to anyone who remembers how we got the Texas Lottery which was supposed to pay for Texas schools. Lawmakers like Pitts will tell us that the only way we can save our teachers is to bring legalized gambling to Texas. By doing so they will be fulfilling their promises to lobbyists and people like Tilman Fertitta who have been filling campaign coffers for years, but look at what they did to teachers in order to achieve their goals. Is this the kind of representation we want in Austin?
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