News Room

April 12, 2007

"In our government, budgets reflect our values. Texas' budget is a statement of our moral choices. With the sober reality facing Texans today, our priority should be an investment in our children, not tax cuts for millionaires four years from now."

Written by Senator Eliot Shapleigh,


AUSTIN  Today, with an historic surplus of $14.3 billion, the Senate passed S.B. 1, a state budget bill that includes $3 billion banked for tax cuts, not in this biennium, 2008-09, but in 2010-11.    

With $3 billion unspent in the budget, the Senate voted to apply across-the-board budget cuts, instead of reducing tax cuts to pay for a $700 million settlement in Frew v. Hawkins, a 14-year lawsuit brought by low-income children on Medicaid.  "$700 million for Frew was taken from school children, university students, and mothers wanting CHIP.  But none was taken from the money banked in this bill for millionaires," said Senator Shapleigh. 

In addition, despite a record surplus, S.B. 1 does not substantially increase the number of Texas children covered by CHIP after budget cuts in 2003.  "In a state that insures fewer children than any state in America, we tell CHIP kids there's no money left for you," Senator Shapleigh added. 

"In 2003, with a $10 billion deficit, students, families and middle class Texans were told, 'You must sacrifice.'  Today, with a $14.3 billion surplus, S.B. 1 tells the children of Texas that tax cuts for the wealthy are more important than you," Senator Shapleigh said.        

Today, Texas has fewer citizens with post high school degrees than any other state.  In a world where what you earn depends on what you learn, Texas graduates are 48th in average SAT scores.  In higher education, the portion of young adults attaining a college degree is well below the national average, according to the Governor's Business Council.  In Texas, 29% of 25 to 34 year olds have a college degree, compared to 52% in Canada.  In fact, our state's 25 to 34 year olds are the least educated group of Texans in two decades, less educated than 35 to 44 year olds who are, in turn, less educated than 45 to 54 year olds.  Moreover, Texas ranks first nationally in the percentage of uninsured children and 49th in the percentage of children with immunizations.

These are the sober facts after a decade of leadership dedicated to tax cuts, not educating children.  Steve Murdoch, Texas' official demographer, states that if Texas does not change course in improving and increasing education, Texas will be poorer and less competitive in the future than it is today.  Murdoch explains, "In 2000 constant dollars, the average Texas household in 2040—if you didn't change anything—would be $6,500 poorer in 2000 constant dollars than the average household in 2000 was."

"In our government, budgets reflect our values," said Senator Shapleigh.  "Texas' budget is a statement of our moral choices.  With the sober reality facing Texans today, our priority should be an investment in our children, not tax cuts for millionaires four years from now." 

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