Blogging While Intoxicated: Big Money & State politics edition
By Alex Wukman
I’m in the process of getting drunk as I write this. Normally I don’t practice, nor do I advocate, Blogging While Intoxicated; but after seeing today’s news out of Austin there was no other logical response except to get so shitfaced that I’m not angry at our elected representatives anymore. For those who didn’t see, excuse me while I pour myself another Taka vodka and red Kool-Aid, Bloomberg.com reported that the State of Texas has agreed to pay $250 million over 10 years, or $25 million a year for people who suck at math, to bring Formula One auto racing to the Austin area.
As is pointed out in the article, Texas is facing a $15 billion budget shortfall that has resulted in proposed cuts of up to $9 billion in public education spending, which the Free Press documented here. Sadly, the decision to spend state money for auto racing is not the only move that is such a bold faced example of elected leaders toadying up to big money that it’s insulting. In early April one of Governor Perry’s aides went before the State Legislature to lobby for an additional $20 million to subsidize film production in Houston, which we commented on here.
And just this week, in an article with a headline that can only qualify as revolting, the Chronicle reported that the State Legislature wants to essentially give yacht owners a subsidy by capping sales tax on yachts at $18,000. A tax break for yacht owners is just the latest example of how our State Legislature has been bought and paid for by the super-rich. Possibly the most egregious example is the $2.4 billion tax break that the State gives to natural gas producers to drill in Texas. As State Representative Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth) pointed out in an April op-ed piece in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram cutting public education when the State is broke is one thing, “but making cuts while giving away $2.4 billion in a single tax break is simply unconscionable.”
The magnitude of this tragedy is something that won’t be known for years, because Texas is only at the start of this backward slide into creating a class of ignorant peons. Perhaps the best illustration of this fucked up situation can be found in the numbers of passionate teachers who are being laid off this year. The Austin-American Statesman reported that nearly 2,000 faculty and staff are being laid off from five Austin area school districts. The Dallas Morning News reported that over 200 Dallas ISD personnel have already been eliminated and another 3,700 could face a similar fate.
Ft. Worth public broadcasting reported that nearly 1,000 Ft. Worth ISD employees could be laid off this year. Ft. Bend ISD is laying off 470 people reported Ft. Bend Now and HISD is expected to cut 1,900 positions. As I said the only logical response to this shit storm of elected representatives engaging in the calculated destruction of public education while pushing an agenda so bathed in the stench of big campaign donors as to be odious is to get blind stinking drunk. See you at the bar.