One of the more amusing political parlor games during the early part of the 82nd Lege session has been watching group after group cry poor and shortly before announcing some huge expenditure.
Houston Metro has said they're reeling. They're going to have to cut expenditures and possibly cancel bus service to the poor and needy because they have to give back a sliver of their sales tax revenue to the City of Houston to fund general mobility projects. One would think it's a miracle they have enough to fuel their feet of buses without resorting to stealing cooking oil from KFC.
Of course, this is the "new" Metro, not those old sneaky guys who didn't shoot straight with the public. Today's Metro is a 100% above-board group whose fiscal conservatism is a beacon of hope in the raging sea of psuedo-government spend-thrifts. Because they're so thrifty they're going to spend Millions of dollars that they don't have to continue to build a toy train that doesn't do anything in terms of mobility. Oh, and they're going to pay Jerome Gray $170K per to tell you how fiscally prudent they've become.
Then we have the City of Houston, with a budget hole that's constantly expanding to a point that furloughs and layoffs are inevitable finds $3 Million they can give to the Dynamo. Plus, they can afford to run a farmer's market in the dead of winter and pay graffiti artists a bunch of money to do something they'd do for free eventually anyway.
Finally, we have the State Government. If you follow the news you know that State's budget woes are legion. Gasp! We're going to grandma out of her rest home! We're going to cut education to the BONE! It's a DISASTER!
Except......It's not really.
Yes, if Texas Republicans cut the things above there will be some pain. But there are more reasonable things that can be cut. A $60 Million High School Football stadium for example. The Texas Enterprise Fund, that bastion of corporate welfare and political payola guarded by the Governor (and rightly so, since it's a huge base of his power). How about cutting steroid testing in Texas High School Sports? Yes, we understand that this is a David Dewhurst favorite and he's going to push it heavily in ads for his upcoming Senate run but, even if it is repealed can't his campaign consultants earn their money and come up with something else?
The point is, unlike The Apple Dumpling Gang and various bloggers (who call for property tax increases while silently protesting their own) we think that there are things that CAN (and should) be cut by the Lege before they even seriously LOOK at raising revenue or cutting into the rainy day fund. That doesn't mean that it's a good idea to cut education, or that you can cut TXDot to the point that roads aren't built, but do we really need to be providing a sliver of arts funding in EVERY building project?
Start by cutting non-essential add-ons and then make deep cuts (or eliminate) corporate welfare. When you're done with that......then let's talk about tapping one-time funds to cover on-going budget needs. Or (gasp) raising taxes on EVERYONE to cover needs. It's a better idea than creating a false class war against people who choose to live in gated communities (The Apple Dumpling Gang) or calling for increased taxation on everyone making a little bit more than you (progressives) or buying your head in the sand and pretending there's not a problem knowing full well that other's are going to have to clean up the mess you left because of unfunded mandates. (Texas Republicans)