From time to time, some real embarrassments run for elective office.
Here in Texas, voters occasionally will send some of ’em to Austin and a few to Washington, D.C.
In January, the legislative cosmos in our capitols will be aligning in ways that could produce profound change or disaster.
The Texas Legislature will convene Jan. 10 and Jan. 20, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.
Some mainstream media pundits claim that Trump might be creating a “climate of hate.” They may be right if they mean folks hate to be lied to, hate to be ignored, hate to see their taxes squandered and hate to see their country turning into a federal dictatorship.
I may be wrong, but I believe the lesson to be learned from the rise of Trump is that a lot of the electorate is hopping mad at business as usual professional politicians.
Professional politicians mess things up by clinging to the wrong conclusions. One of which is believing that once elected to office they’re endowed with a mysterious ability to know what’s best for everybody.
They become fortune tellers speaking in strange tongues. If they start talking about “investing in the future” or “getting serious about education,” watch your wallet.
Professional politicians and nanny state planners have apparently come up with the absurd notion that the “root causes” of being “poor, disenfranchised and uneducated” is a condition created by taxpayers not caring enough.
This allows the “poor, disenfranchised and uneducated” to avoid any personal responsibility for their own condition. The truth is I’m not responsible for my neighbor’s financial condition. My neighbor is! I’m not responsible for the education of my neighbors’ kids…my neighbor is.
Along with everyone else, I pay school taxes. But it’s up to my neighbor, not me, to make sure his kids take advantage of the opportunity those taxes provide.
Apparently Texas isn’t the only state that sends some embarrassments to the capitol. There’s some in state government who aim to cure obesity by modifying human behavior through taxation. Yep, that’s right, some politicians believe obesity can be cured by taxation.
If you believe the latest nanny state drivel found in studies funded by state and federal authorities, then you know “society” is responsible for obesity. I don’t know how it happened, but somehow or another we’re all responsible for the poundage of those heavy weights on electric scooters fighting over the last box of Twinkies in the pastry aisle at Wally World.
California is leading the way in the war on obesity and other states are joining them. Lawmakers on the left coast have introduced legislation that would tax all sugar sweeten drinks and use the proceeds to fight obesity. For every teaspoon of sugar or other sweeteners in beverages, a one cent tax is levied.
The governor of Colorado signed into law a tax on soda and candy, and New York legislators are considering it. In Pennsylvania, there’ll be a cent-and-a-half tax for every ounce of added sugar.
At this time, added sugar is not on the legislative agenda down in Austin. If things go according to plan, the 85th legislative session of Texas will begin with a loyalty vote for House Speaker Joe Straus.
It’s a meaningless vote because no one is challenging Straus for the Speaker’s job. But it will allow him to make a note of his supporters.
Straus has already warned legislative leaders to prepare for 3-percent budget cuts across the board. It’s a fact that 80,000 new students enroll in Texas schools every year while the cost of educating them rises. A 3-percent cut in the education budget will have the educational establishment in an uproar.
Most Texas legislators and nearly all citizens don’t understand the school funding system. But one thing is certain: The optics don’t match the rhetoric.
The educational establishment talks of underfunded schools while $60-million and $70-million high school football stadiums keep going up across the state.
Those football stadiums are built with bond money, not school taxes. But the school districts are responsible for the upkeep, interest payments and retirement of the bonds paid for with school taxes.
There are 1,200 independent school districts in Texas, and 600 of them sued the state claiming the Legislature isn’t meeting Constitutional standards in school funding.
The Texas Supreme Court ruled that Constitutional standards were met and kicked the school funding problem back to the legislators.
That leaves us where we started: profound change or disaster?