Seeking to restart his political life after his presidential disaster, Gov. Rick Perry is making public speeches again. And, predictably, pontificators are speculating about whether he will be able to “rehabilitate” his reputation. For Perry and his constituents, though, the main thing that counts now is not his political reputation, but his ultimate legacy. What will he eventually have to show for being the longest serving governor in Texas history?
So far, that is not much. Future generations (and most members of this one) are not going to give a hoot about how much red meat he continues to toss to conservative activists, which he was expected to do again today in a speech in Washington to the Conservative Political Action Committee.
Yakking heads on Fox News (to whom Perry granted an interview this week) may hyperventilate over his railings about states’ rights, but most Texas parents are much more concerned about the quality of their children’s education, whether they will be able to afford college and whether their offspring will be prepared for quality, highpaying jobs in the nottoodistant future.
What hath Perry wrought? Soaring university tuition, cuts in student financial aid, dashed college dreams and the worst public education budget in his lifetime. Remember, Perry and the legislative majority slashed $5.4 billion from Texas’ public schools last spring while hoarding more than $7 billion of taxpayers’ money in the Rainy Day Fund, so Perry could try to make points with antigovernment, headinthesand ideologues. Even Perry’s education commissioner, Robert Scott, has admitted public education funding is inadequate.
Does Perry really want to “rehabilitate” himself? He can start with the public schools and undo some of the damage he and his legislative allies inflicted on our school children. It would be a great first step, as TSTA has requested, to call the Legislature into special session to appropriate $2.5 billion of the Rainy Day Fund and restore budget cuts to the public schools for the 201213 school year. That would stop the bleeding from our children’s classrooms as the Texas economy continues to improve.
Then, the governor can go about the business of seeking a morepermanent school finance fix that includes an adequate and equitable revenue source that grows with the state’s economy – if he wants to leave a legacy that actually means something, anyway.
Want to encourage the governor to start creating that legacy? Click on this link and sign TSTA’s petition urging a special session to stop the education cuts.