Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Noise Machine (05/12/10)

Who? What?

It's good news/bad news for the Harris County Sheriff's Department as they settle three high-profile lawsuits from the Rosenthal administration but end up forking out almost $600,000. Ah well....

Is it the letter of the law, or the spirit of the law that matters? The Texas Lege is going to consider that as more and more Representatives use text messages and Twitter to circumvent open meetings requirements. (Twitter is open so I encourage more Reps to get on that, engage with their constituents. Just don't constantly DM one another.)

Yesterday, in the link-post I high-lighted Bill White's attack on Rick Perry for his use of the Texas Enterprise Fund and hinted that I thought there could be fertile ground to plow for the White campaign. It seems Matt Angle and the State Democratic Party have sent the same message to the InterLeft. I'm assuming this is going to be a major thrust of White's campaign going forward. (It's a stronger argument than the unemployment angle, which really just displays a lack of understanding of basic math. If White really wants to make some political hey he'll make eliminating the fund, and diverting the money to education, a key plank in his platform. Of course, that would rid the Governor of a powerful and influential tool.)

This story included for no other reason than I have an interest in things being hurled out of galaxies at high-speed.

Jason Embry of the Austin American-Statesman comments today on budget coverage of Texas' major news dailies. Guess who's coverage is the weakest?
Here are the headlines newspaper subscribers in our big metro areas are waking up to this morning:

Austin American-Statesman: “Speaker rules out taxes to fix budget”

Dallas Morning News: “Prisons, mental care exempt from 5% cuts”

San Antonio Express-News: “Texas now is facing $18 billion shortfall”

Fort Worth Star-Telegram: “Projected state budget deficit rises to $18 billion”

And there is a tease at the bottom of the Houston Chronicle which reads, “Facing a shortfall, speaker wants to avoid a hike, too, while trying to close the gap.”
So you have an $11-$18 billion dollar hole that could have a profound effect on all Texans and ChronBlog decides it's only worth a tease at the bottom of page 1. Nice job editors. Oy.

Meanwhile, Ben PhilPott of the Texas Tribune provides proof of case (unintentionally?) why using one-time Federal dollars is a bad budget idea:
The Legislative Budget Board’s assistant director Wayne Pulver told House budget writers this morning that they could start the next legislative session in a $15 to $18 billion budget hole.

“You’re looking at the – essentially 11 or so billion in use of one time revenues if you will – if the federal money doesn’t reoccur. Plus the cost pressures. Plus revenue perhaps not coming in as previously estimated. So that’s a number that has been out there. And that’s a reasonable number," said Pulver.
So, $11 billion of the $15-18 billion is the result of Federal funds not being renewed? Boy, aren't we glad we didn't take that one-time infusion of Federal cash into our unemployment system now? (Which goes to the point: Taking Federal money often means spending more money to bring a State program into Federal compliance. Typically this compliance was put in for political, rather than practical, reasons. It's often (not always) better to go it alone and implement a smaller tax increase sooner rather than a bigger tax increase later.)

Unca Darrell reminds us that, while ChronBlog's Nick Anderson can really draw, he doesn't quite have that intellectual consistency thing down yet. (The problem for attacking the Tea Party for their fiscal conservatism is that you then have to explain why they were right when you offer up your stump speech for reducing the deficit. There's a lot of reasons to dislike the Tea Party, their call for fiscal restraint isn't one of them.)

And finally.....

Tom Kirkendall excerpts the Happy Hospitalist on Medicare. The biggest lie of this year was that the Health Insurance Industry Regulation signed into law by President Obama had anything to do with "reforming" healthcare.

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