Archive for April, 2011
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America’s Next Impact, a Texas youth advocacy group entreats the Texas Congress to do the right thing with the current budget:
The eyes of Texas are on the legislature, but the eyes of the nation are on Texas.
Specifically, young Americans look to this Texas legislature to make decisions that will restore jobs and the opportunity to participate in the American Dream. If it can’t be done in Texas, can it be done anywhere?
At the end of this semester, I will graduate from college. Millions just like me worked hard to be able to secure good jobs and enjoy a standard of living similar to our parents and grandparents. Nevertheless, the current level of government spending undercuts the possibility of good jobs or prosperous futures.
In fact, Texans of all ages are fed up with the status quo.
Hardworking taxpayers and small businesses already feel the burden in this struggling economy right along with recent college graduates who are facing increasingly tight job markets and diminishing prospects. The simple fact is that our legislature cannot continue to kick the can down the road and count on someone else to fix it.
Elected leaders at all levels of government need to act quickly to reduce the debt and control spending. Local governments in Texas are more than $175 billion in debt, including school districts, cities and counties.
And even though Texas is better off than most states, our lawmakers must bridge a revenue shortfall estimated to be more than $15 billion. A state known for fiscal responsibility is in a fiscally tight spot.
Texas lawmakers must make tough decisions about where to cut government spending. Many understand the Lone Star State cannot continue to prosper unless we cut the size and scope of government.
Right now, Texas is at the forefront, shaping the nation’s recovery. Decisions made in this legislative session will affect the state’s economic stability and prosperity for years to come.
How can our legislators keep the economy going without raising taxes or raiding the rainy day fund? How can we remain a beacon for job creation and business relocation without sound fiscal policies passed by our lawmakers?
It comes down to one thing: Spending must be reduced.
FIRST, TRIM THE FAT
The Texas public education system, which constitutes more than 40 percent of the state budget, is ripe for cuts. Texans value education, and education funding is rarely subject to scrutiny – but this budget cycle, we must make cuts that include education.
For the last few years, state spending per student has increased dramatically, yet academic results don’t reflect that investment. More dollars are being spent on administrative pay, hiring non-teaching staff and building Taj Mahal-style facilities. Available education dollars should be spent on priorities, which are teachers and instruction.
Average salaries for professional support staff and administrators in Texas are typically $9,000-$38,000 more than teachers earn, with as many non-teachers as teachers on payrolls at school districts across the state. Sen. Florence Shapiro suggests just cutting administrator salaries by 10 percent would save $2 billion over the next biennium.
That would be a promising start.
Another possibility would be to limit school district superintendents’ salaries to the governor’s pay, which is $150,000 a year. That would save Texas schools $20 million a biennium. Currently, 214 district superintendents earn more than the governor, not including their perks and benefits that range into the tens of thousands of dollars.
Many members of my generation do not want higher taxes and bigger government. We support trimming bureaucracy and saving taxpayers’ money – both in the short and long term – to keep Texas back on track.
History underscores the fact that we cannot tax or spend our way into prosperity.
Elected state leaders’ commitment to the principles of low taxes and limited government is critical to all Texans today, and essential to young Texans like me eager to start a career.
My generation’s message to elected officials is simple: This is no time to waver – now is the time to reduce government spending and debt to protect this great state’s economy for current and future generations. We ask our elected representatives to meet the challenges ahead and stay committed to the difficult choices they need to make today to ensure an economically viable and prosperous tomorrow
Keeping the American dream alive for this and future generations rests squarely on the shoulders of the men and women of the 82nd Texas Legislature.
Christopher Covo is a political science senior at Texas State University and director of America’s Next Impact, a new youth outreach project of Americans for Prosperity.
How bad is it, really? President Obama and his soundbite messaging insist that we’re “winning the future”. Adam Baldwin, actor and conservative begs to differ. He talks about where we really are as a country, right now.
Adam and I had a “big picture” discussion about where the country is financially. It’s not the most uplifting conversation. But then, if you want sunshine and delusion, watch an Obama presser. Here’s a link to the podcast. It’s about 30 minutes long.
Over the past couple of weeks, I haven’t been writing. I decided to just take a break. I needed perspective. The big picture gets murky when lost in the depths of policy but since the devil’s in the details, many watchdogs stay there. And yet, the big picture needs to be understood to put the details in context. Sometimes one can swim so deep and lose which end is up.
While thinking about politics in the greater context, I’ve been reminded, yet again, that the most important discussions are happening elsewhere. What are people learning at church? What are people seeing on TV? What beliefs are being transmitted directly into the minds of people which completely trump any political and economic reality?
The fact is, in modern American life, even with the country and currency on the brink of economic disaster (and this is not just hand-wringing–nearly every expert I’ve spoken with believes that the dollar is weakening, that trust is nigh unto lost), most people cannot seem to care.
To pull a nerd reference, it’s like the Star Trek episode where everyone is playing that sunglasses video game–utterly blind to the world around them. With our modern ability to control so much of our media experience the illusion is that we control the message, but it’s not true. We don’t even fully grasp the extent to which we’re controlled; all of us, including those of us fighting it.
President Obama knows this. So while political activists deride his obsession with his NCAA bracket, President Obama knows that more people care about that than they do about the fact that the President is responsible for their job losses if they’re oil workers, as an example. They care more about that then his selling out of the taxpayer interests in service of greedy union bosses. So, President Obama golfs knowing that the press will shrug their shoulders. He knows that the war isn’t won in the political realm at all.
Serious issues like the budget are treated as ideological fights rather than a something tangible and real and with consequences. Anyway, it seems the real fight is outside of politics and in the popular culture. The real fight is in the realm of ideas and philosophy. And our immediate gratification, neutered culture is teaching one message and our political class, well half of them anyway, are fighting that message in order to make responsible decisions.
It’s an epic battle. We risk losing the future if we don’t fight on the real battlefield.