Monday, April 25, 2011

The Government We Deserve

"The 2006 tax swap - lowering local school property taxes and creating a new state business tax to make up the difference - is at the center of the state's current budget troubles. It was never an even swap, and the architects are still pointing fingers over what and whom to blame for the 'structural deficit' in state finances. Then-Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn told lawmakers at the time that the package of bills didn't balance. ... By her reckoning, the state was raising $23 billion less with its new taxes over the first five years than it was promising in relief to property taxpayers in local school districts around the state.

Here's a line that seemed inflammatory then but looks practically clairvoyant today: 'At worst, it will relegate Texans to Draconian cuts in critical areas like education and health care for at least a generation. This is not a victory for taxpayers. It is a sham, and Texans will see it for what it is.' She urged Perry to veto it. He signed it instead."

-- Ross Ramsey, The Texas Tribune

Carole Keeton Strayhorn, whose crystal ball was crystal clear, is today a largely forgotten ex-office holder. Rick Perry, the engineer of Texas's current budget crisis, is a multi-term governor whose popularity in Texas has never been higher and who is being mentioned as a potential Presidential candidate.

What's wrong with this picture? Maybe it's the assumption that Texans oppose "Draconian cuts in critical areas like education and health care for at least a generation." Although Perry never said in so many words that that was what he wanted to accomplish, that's what he delivered. It must have been to the satisfaction of the majority of Texans. They voted for him. He remains popular today.

"In a democracy, people get the government they deserve."
-- Alexis de Toqueville

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