A children’s financial fairy tale
Let’s ask Sherman to set the WABAC Machine to 2006 and see if we can figure out just how Texas got into a big, bad budget mess.
Back in 2006, Republicans of all stripes campaigned to reform property taxes, because Texas Republicans were Tea Party Republicans even before there was a Tea Party. And, as we all know, the Tea Party really, really hates paying taxes, especially taxes that help children and grammas and grampas and poor people.
Property taxes paid for many things but the biggest thing they paid for was to send the children to school. It still is.
So, under the leadership of the Man with the Good Hair — hair that would not muss, even when the wind blew really, really hard — the Texas Legislature set a limit on school property taxes, which cut about one-third of the money from the schools.
The Man with the Good Hair promised to make businesses replace the money that was cut when property taxes were capped. It was the biggest tax increase in the state’s history. Even so, it wasn’t enough to replace the money that was cut from the schools. Not even close.
The lady who ran the treasury, a gramma who said she was very, very tough, told the Man with the Good Hair that there wasn’t enough money to send all the kids to school. She said that, if he didn’t do something about it, in five years, the state’s piggy bank would be short $23 billion, which is a lot of money.
The Man with the Good Hair ignored the Gramma — mostly because he didn’t want to hear what the Gramma said and also because the Gramma wanted his job.
The Man with the Good Hair put his hands over his ears and went, “La, la, la, la, la.”
He and his friends in the Legislature went ahead and cut property taxes anyway, because that’s what they wanted to do.
And, guess what? That tough Gramma was right! It’s been five years and the little piggy bank is about $25 billion too short to pay the bills. How ’bout that?
But, instead of asking businesses to pay a little more, like he promised to back in 2006, the Man with the Good Hair and his friends have said, “Uh oh. We’re broke. Too bad.”
He says because we are broke, a lot of teachers and other people who work at schools might have to be fired, and many of the people who work for the government — like firemen and policemen and people who keep our roads, homes, air and water safe — well, they might lose their jobs, too.
And it’s all because the Man with the Good Hair and his friends in the Texas Tea Party convinced enough voters that we are broke (we’re really not) and that we can’t afford to send all the children to school (we can) and that poor people and grammas and grampas don’t really need any help (they do).
- You can read Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn’s letter to Gov. Rick Perry here.