Back in September, Democrats all across Texas kept trying to get voters to pay attention to the state’s budget.
Neither Gov. Perry nor Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, nor Comptroller Susan Combs could be troubled to talk about it, even though nearly anyone who paid any attention whatsoever knew that our bi-annual budget process was bound to be bloody.
We didn’t know it was gong to be this bloody or that Tea Party Republicans would be this hypocritical or disingenuous.
Back then, Perry et. al insisted that our budget was in good shape, that Texas was an Economic Miracle, that we were creating high-paying jobs at a record clip. There’s nothing to see here; move along. Behold, I give you Rick-o-monics!
Now we know that Perry and his buddies were hiding a deficit of horrendous proportions, that all those new jobs paid minimum wage and that our deficit is structural and that no amount of slash-and-burn hi-jinks would cover up a decade of smoke and mirrors (and, if this sounds like our national economic nightmare, it’s because Perry studied at GWB’s feet).
At the same time as Perry was convincing state Tea Partiers they could have decent state services with out having to pay any taxes, Tea Partiers here in Milam County raised three or four different kinds of hell about the county’s finances. They didn’t seem to care much about the fact that the state’s budget was going to hell in a bucket; they cared only that the county might levy a tax that would require them to pay $2.97 more this year than last year.
Fast forward to this Spring. I’m not in much of a position to comment about the county’s current finances but former County Judge Frank Summers is. He has mounted a vigorous and lucid defense of his budgetary philosophy on his blog (Inside Milam County) which you can access here and I urge you to read it.
However, while there has been a great deal of smirking and winking regarding the current budget and how it might be all messed up, I’ve not heard a thing from local Tea Party activists about how thoroughly Perry has wrecked our state’s finances.
And, because of how thoroughly our state’s finances have been wrecked, the next county budget cycle is likely to be every bit as bloody as the state’s has been — but without the resources the state has.
Because of Rick-o-nomics, Milam County will care for the mentally ill in our jail and poor folk will flood our emergency rooms because they won’t be able to get health care any other way. Forget finding money for economic development, job creation and infrastructure improvement, these two issues alone could swamp any good-faith effort new County Judge Barkemeyer might make on the county’s budget (assuming he’s right and Frank is wrong — an assumption I don’t buy).
So, when your friendly local Tea Party activist starts smirking about county government, ask him or her about job creation, about housing mentally ill in the jail and about public sector job layoffs.