Sunday, December 19, 2010

Of Pensions and Balanced Budgets. (UPDATED)

***Updated with link***

In today's print only Chronicle (link here) there's a story about Houston's continuing problems with municipal pensions. The story, well written by ChronBlog reporter Bradley Olson, got me thinking.

Wasn't pension reform one of the planks of Bill White's "vote for me" platform?

Yes, it was. It also wasn't fixed as many critics of the White administration pointed out while being jeered down by White's blogger cabal. It's interesting that ChronBlog, one of White's biggest supporters, is choosing to report on this now, after White lost badly and their editorial choice for governor has been vanquished.

These are campaign claims that SHOULD have been given the journalism once-over in the same manner that Rick Perry's claims were. But they weren't. Which makes readers wonder: What, exactly, is Chronblog's reason for doing this now?

Metro is broken, the pension system is broken as is the City budget. These are problems that need serious discussion and serious solutions. "Cut at all costs" or "raise taxes (on people we don't like) at all costs" are not long-term answers to the problem. What Houston (and Texas) needs to do is take a long, hard look at how their spending money and then have a serious conversation about how to fund the core priorities that most agree are needed.

Education? Agreed, we do have to teach our children. But are we going about it in the most cost-efficient, effective way?

Public Safety? You bet. But are we using all of the tools available to us, and are we spending money where it's needed? (And yes, Republicans, that includes taking steps to reduce the prison & jail population)

Transportation? Yes, but are we building roads where they need to be? And, most importantly, are our mass transit plans designed to move people where they need to go?

The safety net? Republicans would say "no" but I'm of the thought that most Americans agree some form of safety net is needed. The question is, how much and how to pay for it.

The easy answer is to change the way we fund things in Texas (and Nationally) from the ground up, and to remove political influence from the taxation process. The reality is that this not going to be easy because special interests die hard. If Texas wants to succeed going forward however they're going to have to do some serious navel-gazing in order find answers that will work for the Tea Party crowd, as well as Texas conservative majority.

1 comment:

  1. I'd be happy if sentences were reduced across the board, but only if the prisoners were required to work their arse off on chain gangs and such rebuilding and repairing infrastructure, or just cleaning up the freaking roads. or growing vegetables and raising cattle to feed the homeless. Prison is supposed to be someplace you never want to go to, or if you do, never want to go back. But now we have people suing if they can't watch their favorite cable shows or get hormone therapy to turn them into "females". I think Arpaio has the right idea on the way he runs his jails, TDCJ needs to follow suit. If nothing else, the products the prisoners generate can be sold to help pay for their incarceration.


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