It’s been clear for months that Republicans in the legislature aren’t interested in meaningful solutions to California’s budget crisis. They’ve blocked a vote of the people on extending existing taxes to prevent disastrous cuts to schools, public safety and programs that are a lifeline for seniors, people with disabilities and the poor. They’ve refused to offer any proposals to bridge the remaining $15 billion shortfall facing our state. They’re taking their marching orders from out-of-state ideologues and radio shock jocks while their own constituents suffer the consequences of their inaction.
Now, with our state on the brink of disaster, they’ve finally decided to do something… they’re leading a junket to Texas for what they call a “fact-finding” trip. That’s right, Texas. The same Texas that’s dealing with its own budget crisis. The same Texas that has seen its unemployment double in recent years. Instead of dealing with our budget crisis, Republicans are flying off to Texas for a few days of hobnobbing with officials for what’s sure to be a back-slapping, good ole-fashioned Texas good time.
While Dan Logue, Connie Conway and other Republicans are in living it up at receptions in Texas, we’re inching closer to a disastrous scenario in California in which $15 billion in additional cuts would literally leave our state unrecognizable. If Republicans fail to act on extending existing taxes, schools will close. Tuition at colleges will skyrocket. Police and firefighters will be laid off. Those seniors, people with disabilities and economically disadvantaged Californians living on the margins would be shoved over a cliff.
California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski:
It’s absurd that with our state budget in crisis Republican politicians are leading a self-serving junket to Texas…If Dan Logue, Connie Conway and their colleagues insist on going to Texas to hobnob with officials there rather than working to solve California’s problems, perhaps they should book their tickets one-way. We’d be better off with elected representatives who actually care more about our communities than furthering their own narrow political agendas.
So why would Republicans abandon our state in its time of need to go to Texas? The answer is simple: Politics as usual. It’s part of their agenda to tear down necessary environmental and workplace regulations that protect our families. Republican Assemblymember Dan Logue calls it a “fact-finding” mission. Well, Dan, if you wanted the facts on Texas, we could have saved you a trip.
Here’s what’s really happening in Texas:
- Texas faces a two-year budget deficit of $25 billion, which is about equal to California’s deficit proportional to overall budgets. (Paul Krugman, NY Times, January 6, 2011)
- Since April 2008, the Texas unemployment rate has nearly doubled. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
- Budget cuts are estimated to cost Texas 600,000 jobs, including 263,000 in private sector. This is a model the California GOP wants to emulate? (CNN, March 25, 2011)
- Texas has the 8th highest poverty rating in US; California is 21st. Poverty in Texas jumped 11% from 2009 to 2010. One in four children in Texas lives in poverty, and 26% of Texans lack health insurance. (2010 US Census, as reported in Dallas Morning News, September 17, 2010)
- Texas ranks 34th in median family income, with $47,143; California is 13th, at $56,852. (Michael Hitzlik, LA Times, Feb. 9, 2011)
- Texas spends about $1000 less per pupil on K-12 education than California. Texas is currently 37th in per pupil spending before cuts, and the state is looking to cut an additional $5 billion from schools. (National Education Association and Thomas Elias, Ventura County Star, February 23, 2011)
- A recent UCLA study found “Texas isn't stealing California's jobs, workers or prosperity.” (LA Times, March 10, 2011)
Doesn’t sound so great after all, does it? The fact is, our budget crisis in California is a ticking time bomb. Republicans need to stop the political games and start engaging in an honest dialogue with their constituents about the damage $15 billion in additional cuts would do to our communities. And the very last thing they should be doing is taking a junket to Texas, a state that has its own – perhaps even more severe – economic problems.