As legislators, Glenn Hegar and Ken Paxton were champion budget-cutters. They voted to slash $5.4 billion from public schools in 2011 and, to the delight of their right-win constituencies, hacked their way through numerous other budgets as well.
Now, Hegar is the new state comptroller, and Paxton is the new Texas attorney general, and guess what? They aren’t slashing away at budgets anymore. Instead, they are complaining about how their past budget cuts have hurt the facilities and working conditions at the agencies they now head. Their plight would be amusing, were it not so serious for everyone else.
“Duh, no fooling,” is my message to both. But why did it take a slap of reality for these two tea party darlings to pull their heads out of the sand and realize that budget cuts have consequences?
In recent articles in The Texas Tribune and the Austin American-Statesman, Paxton complained about elevators that didn’t work and leaking roofs damaging computer servers, while Hegar said he was concerned about “basic sanitation” and an employee who had to get rabies shots after coming in contact with one of the bats flying in her building.
I feel for the employees in their agencies and am concerned about how Hegar’s and Paxton’s tight-fisted attitude as legislators is affecting the quality of their agencies’ public services now.
I also am concerned about how the Legislature’s “deferred maintenance” policy has resulted in deplorable and unsafe living conditions in mental health hospitals and the Texas School for the Deaf.
And, I am concerned about how those school budget cuts of four years ago, although partially restored, are still affecting educators and students in overcrowded, under-equipped classrooms. And, don’t forget the thousands of former teachers and school employees who lost their jobs.
I am not concerned about Hegar and Paxton, but I hope their complaints as agency heads bring better results than their politics as legislators did.