The prospects of deep cuts to important public services are bad enough for millions of workingclass Texans without Gov. Rick Perry continuing to make cavalier statements that insult the people he was elected to serve. The most recent example occurred yesterday when the governor, at a news conference, ridiculed the “proponents of Armageddon” for “needlessly” raising concerns about the anticipated spending reductions.
In the first place, the concerns were prompted by Perry’s repeated insistence that a revenue shortfall, now projected as high as $27 billion, be bridged with spending cuts and spending cuts alone. So far, the governor has even ruled out any expenditures from the Rainy Day Fund to help ease the emergency.
Secondly, being worryfree about financial “Armageddon” comes easily for a governor with a sixfigure state salary, a large, taxpayerpaid staff at his beck and call and a $10,000permonth, taxpayerpaid mansion to call home.
But a personal form of “Armageddon” may very well be at the door for the custodians, secretaries and other nonprofessional staffers who will start losing their jobs in the Vidor ISD this month, mainly because Perry and the Legislature have refused to adequately fund the public schools. By the time a new state budget is drafted, something akin to Armageddon also may be breathing down the necks of thousands of newly unemployed teachers and state employees. And, it may be a reality for thousands of lowincome, working parents who will see their kids lose health care coverage because of cutbacks to CHIP.
The only optimistic note from yesterday’s news conference was a vague hint that Perry – prompted by Senate Finance Chairman Steve Ogden – may take a look at the underperforming margins tax. Efforts to milk more revenue from that source, however, are sure to prompt howls of outrage from many business people.
But Perry should tone down the rhetoric. The political campaign, at least the governor’s race, is over. It is time to govern, not sound like a yakshow host on Fox.