Texas enjoys a super-majority Republican status. As a friend pointed out to me, if Texas Republicans wanted to wholesale rewrite the Texas constitution with nary a Democrat involved, they could do it.
And yet, Texas Republicans facing a budget shortfall are turning into collective addled mush.
Tough decisions need to be made to balance the budget. The Republicans don't want to make them, which leads to Republican Governor Perry reversing himself on raiding the Rainy Day fund:
Perry said that using a "one-time amount" from what is officially called the Economic Stabilization Fund would "help our budget deal with the impact of the national recession." Earlier this year he had opposed using the fund at all.
"I remain steadfastly committed to protecting the remaining balance of the Rainy Day Fund, and will not sign a 2012-2013 state budget that uses the Rainy Day Fund," Perry said in a statement that indicated that he, House Speaker Joe Straus and Comptroller Susan Combs agreed on the plan.
Instead, they want to raid the Rainy Day Fund to the tune of 3.2 billion and kick the budget problem down the line.
Governor Perry said today on a Texas bloggers call that he'd veto any budgets for 2012 and 2013 that raided the Rainy Day Fund. This will force the Republicans to make the difficult decisions for the next two years.
"We will not raise taxes to balance the budget," Governor Perry said. Well, man, I hope not.
House and Senate Republicans are falling down on the job. Speaker of the House Joe Straus, the moderate Republican challenged for his leadership position, and Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, who is running for the Senator Kay Bailey-Hutchinson's soon-to-be-empty U.S. Senate seat, cannot seem to find ways to scale back Texas' costs.
Of course, there are long lines of sob-stories crying to the press over their plights should the budget be cut. The Republicans need to do the right thing anyway.
Texas, along with other states, suffered with the recession. Now, it's bouncing back (even with the Obama administration attacking the oil industry). And even bouncing back, Texas, like many states has some ongoing budget problems.
Federal health care mandates are breaking the bank. School systems are growing and the bureaucracy grows right along with it. Did you know, for example, that the ratio of school administrators to teachers is 1:1 in Texas? And yet, schools will swear over their golden football helmets that there is nowhere to cut spending.
The Republicans in Texas need to remember what's at stake. Texas stands as a beacon of freedom and small government. All eyes of a weary nation look to her to see a contrast between the big government, bloated, selfish policies of our Federal government and liberal states from sea to shining sea (New Jersey, California and Michigan are three of the worst) and conservative states like Texas.
Americans saw the national Republicans destroy the brand by playing fast and loose and growing the government when they ran Congress and had the Presidency. Now, in a position of leadership in the U.S. House, Republicans scramble to cut a government facing down an unserious Democratic Senate and a child in the White House. They attempt to rebuild trust while finding even the tiniest of cuts difficult.
Texas must be different. Republicans here must lead the nation and demonstrate that fiscal responsibility is possible, even if painful.
Speaker Straus and Senate leader Lt. Governor David Dewhurst need to cowboy up and face this government beast and slay it.
This is not just about Texas and Texas businesses an tax payers. This is about hope. If Texas cannot do this with a Republican super majority, what hope do other debt laden states have of recovering?
Are we, as a country, going to admit defeat? Are we going to roll over and be quasi-socialists?
Texans demand better from their leadership. Yes, this is going to cause pain. Yes, this is going to be difficult. Local school systems have lived high on the hog for too long. School districts were irresponsible with stimulus money (surprise!). Too damn bad. Time to cut then.
If Texas, of all places, cannot beat back special interests, face the difficulties, and make the needed cuts, who can?