Lies, lies and…more lies

Truth often is a victim in the political process of lawmaking, and it has been assaulted so many times by the state “leadership” during this legislative session that it is on life support.

The tone was set early when Gov. Perry and the top Republican legislators began perpetuating the “Big Lie,” which claims that lawmakers have to make huge cuts in education, health care and other public services to allow the state to “live within its means.”

The state does have to live within its means, but the limited means claimed by the governor and his antigovernment allies are simply artificial, political declarations. The state’s means are determined by the governor and the Legislature. And, the Legislature has billions of untapped dollars in potential revenue. They include another $6 billion in the Rainy Day Fund and billions in potential tax revenue, only a small fraction of which – and posing only a limited impact on most taxpayers – would be necessary to fund a reasonable state budget.

The “Big Lie” subsequently has spawned a number of other misrepresentations, half truths and worse under the Capitol dome.

Here is a small sampling:

# House Public Education Chairman Rob Eissler’s claim, during House debate over the weekend, that his House Bill 400 actually “embraces” teachers.

Yeah, Rob….embraces in the manner of an octopus, a boa constrictor or the Boston Strangler. HB400 is the most antiteacher bill to hit the Legislature in a long time.

# Eissler: “We have a (teacher) salary schedule that’s antiquated.”

Not so much antiquated, Rob, as woefully underfunded. But Eissler has a “solution” with HB400. Repeal the state minimum salary schedule entirely and let districts set their own salaries with their own rules. Then, we can watch Texas’ national ranking of 31st in average teacher pay drop even lower.

# Rep. Jerry Madden, bemoaning the fact that a former intern on his staff, now a firstyear teacher in Austin ISD, is losing her job. He blamed AISD’s lack of the budget “flexibility” that HB400 offers.

No, Jerry, your former intern didn’t lose her job because Austin ISD lacks budget flexibility. She lost her job in anticipation of the deep cuts in state funding for public education that you voted for.

# Senate Education Chairwoman Florence Shapiro, defending a Senate budget that cuts $4 billion from public education: “We pay for students, all students. No students are left out.”

Every public school student would see his or her tax support drop and educational opportunity reduced. For the first time in at least 27 years, neither the House nor the Senate budget would fully fund school finance formulas or pay for anticipated enrollment growth – another 170,000 school kids over the next two years.

# Rep. Myra Crownover, defending attempts to pack more kids into K4 classrooms: “We know there is nothing magical about 221.”

She misses the point entirely – and probably deliberately. Repeated studies have shown that the smaller the classes in K4, the better the learning environment and student results. Smaller would be even better, but 221 is what we have, it has worked and it certainly is better than 251, the new limit Crownover supports.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

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