Money – more specifically, the lack of it – was big news in both Austin and Sacramento today.
In Sacramento, Jerry Brown, the new California governor, laid out his plan for addressing a budgetary shortfall estimated at $25.4 billion. You remember California. It’s that large state on the West Coast, the state that envies Texas, according to Rick Perry, the perpetual Texas governor.
Well, that envy – if it ever existed anywhere outside Perry’s mind – is now officially a thing of the past. That’s because Texas now has an even bigger shortfall, about $27 billion, based on revenue projections released in Austin this morning by Comptroller Susan Combs. The shortfall is the difference between the projected general revenue available for spending during the upcoming biennium ($72.2 billion) and what it would cost to maintain state services at their current levels, taking into account population growth and enrollment growth in the public schools ($99 billion).
In Texas, Gov. Perry and legislative leaders – on the eve of the legislative session, which convenes tomorrow are still insisting that the huge revenue gap be closed with crippling budget cuts to such essential state services as education and health care. In California, Gov. Brown also is proposing budgetary cuts but wants to balance them with a series of tax increases for the next five years.
Unlike Perry, Brown also would specifically protect spending on public education, grades K through 12. Perry talks a good game on the importance of public schools and their role in creating a strong economic future, but Brown actually is doing more than talk. He also is trying to spare public education – and the future of California – from devastating budget cuts.
If Perry has his way in Texas, and Brown prevails in California, guess which state will be attracting the better, higherpaying jobs in the nottoodistant future? (Hint. It won’t have a Capitol in Austin.)
Brown also may represent the interests of Texans better than does Perry. According to an independent poll published in several Texas newspapers over the weekend, Texans strongly oppose spending reductions for schools and health care programs. Some 70 percent said the Legislature shouldn’t cut spending for schools, and 61 percent oppose spending cuts on health care programs for children and low to moderateincome families.
It is time for Perry to stop dreaming, quit bashing California and help fix Texas.