Texas Budget Massacre of 2011

Posted: 30 May 2011 in Uncategorized
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Texas is giving us a real live example of modern right-wing budgetary politics in action: facing a growing fiscal deficit, the legislature and the governor have agree to balance the budget—without raising taxes!

How is that possible? By approving a two-year budget that spends $15 billion less in state and federal dollars than in the last budget cycle (plus a whole host of accounting tricks).

According to the Texas Observer, one effect of the Texas Tea Party budget is to kick the deficit can down the road.

Take a look at the state’s books and you will find a permanent deficit that runs about $5 billion a year. This is the result of a poorly designed scheme in 2006 to swap a property-tax reduction for a business tax that doesn’t generate enough money. Everyone at the Capitol knows about this mess. But no one has the guts—or the sense of responsibility—to deal with it. As a result, the structural deficit has now become as much a part of state government as the Capitol’s pink granite. In 2013—for the fourth session in a row—the state will start its budget process in a $10 billion hole at a minimum.

The other effect is a series of drastic cuts to social programs, especially education. As Andrew Leonard succinctly explains,

Texas schools are in crisis, but the government’s response to a budget shortfall is to cut funding for education even further. It doesn’t take someone with good math SAT scores to figure out what’s going to happen next.

What we’re seeing in Texas is a determined attempt to create a low-tax, business-friendly environment that is making the state look increasingly like its Third World neighbors to the south. Perhaps it’s just their way of returning to their Tejano origins.

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