From the Senator's Desk . . .
June 19, 2008
How did we elect government leaders whose main goal is to destroy government? In Texas, who could imagine hiring a football coach who trained his players how to lose? Well, it happened at the Capitol. Grover Norquist messed with Texas.
Written by Senator Eliot Shapleigh, www.shapleigh.org
"Don't Mess With Texas"
(Updated February 2009)
On June 8, the Governor’s mansion burned down. On Friday, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) reported that two alarms and several security cameras were down. Had they been working, the fire would have been contained.
DPS never fixed the cameras because they didn't have the money. Why?
Because budget cuts left DPS without enough to pay for basic needs. So, failing to fix the mansion's camera system will end up costing the taxpayers millions more than the original $10 million renovation price tag.
Meanwhile, over at Child Protective Services (CPS), half the investigators quit every year. Why?
Because CPS caseloads are the highest in America, and CPS pay is near lowest. CPS workers just can’t take the stress—and the load.
Last session, I tried to fix that by hiring more CPS workers. Our amendment to hire enough CPS workers to visit every foster home at least once per month (as required by federal law) was voted down 20 to 11 on the Senate floor.
What happened? CPS was fined $4 million by the feds for violating the law. Republicans chose to pay the federal fines rather than take care of kids.
From highways to schools, from CPS to CHIP, state leaders are messing with Texas. Texas is first in dropouts and last in health insurance. Our SAT scores are 47th in the US—our skies are now the most polluted in America.
Based on ten years of do-nothing leadership, we must send a message: “Don’t Mess with Texas”. Agency by agency, Texas government is now the functional equivalent of FEMA.
It is irresponsible to let these failures continue.
But, where did this pattern of irresponsibility all start? How did we elect government leaders whose main goal is to destroy government? In Texas, who could imagine hiring a football coach who trained his players how to lose, then put his team out on the field without equipment?
Well, it happened at the Capitol. Back in the days of George Bush and Tom De Lay, their friend Grover Norquist came to Texas. Early in campaigns, he hit every candidate with a “no new tax” pledge. Grover’s mantra was "shrink government so small that we can drown it in a bathtub."
Grover’s philosophy has now dominated Texas for a decade. At the state level, four Senators and 34 House members have signed on to Grover’s pledge. At the federal level, 19 Texas Congressmen and both U.S. Senators have committed to the drown. And every day, Rick Perry and Tom Craddick put Texas deeper into Grover’s tub by trying to privatize schools with vouchers, and sell-off highways with Cintra and the lottery with Phil Gramm.
Have you had enough? Over the next few weeks, we will detail agency by agency what’s going on. What Grover never told Texas is that our children were in his tub.
We can't let irresponsible government mess with Texas. We can do better—to take back Texas, we have to do better.
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