Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Governor Rick Perry’s State of the State Address: Still the Flim-Flam Man

During his address, Perry resembled Burt Lancaster in the vintage film, “Elmer Gantry,” a traveling preacher-like con man who told people what they wanted to hear in order to get their hard-earned money.
It was a nice speech about what Texas ought to do, e.g., putting more money into roadways, stop diverting tax dollars to other interests and freezing college tuition for 4 years. It would almost be a perfect proposal if all of us were to forget that the cause of so many taxing issues was the result of Perry’s decade-long reign and how he did or didn’t do many things as governor instead of helping the entire community.
  • Perry pushed for deregulation of college tuition and in conning the voters to agree, permitted higher learning entities like UT to boost its tuition at least 5 times within a 2-year time period
  • Perry permitted the diversion of funds (like gas taxes for roadways) to be diverted to other interests
  • Perry pushed for toll roads that were not needed to make profits for his campaign financing special interests
  • Perry continued to authorize the collection and holding of state taxes meant for public education and instead of using the money as intended held onto it to beef-up State coffers and/or to divert some tax dollars to other interests.
Now Perry wants to leave a fantasy legacy before he retires, runs for reelection in 2014 and/or challenges for the Presidency in 2016. Perhaps former President Abraham Lincoln spoke the words so many years ago that underscore the 10-year legacy of Rick Perry:
“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”
Abraham Lincoln, (attributed)
16th president of US (1809 - 1865)
Perry has been the epitome of special interest power-plays in the State of Texas. Because of his determination the rich have become richer, the poor poorer, while the middle class is evaporating. He is now trying to spread his verbal honey over the problems he helped to create.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Toll Roads are Unconstitutional

or at least they should be...
Toll roads are NOT in the best interest of the Texas community as some people believe. First off, there is little transparency when it comes to the funding, building and maintenance of our roadways.

Many people believe that only those who use the toll roads pay the toll tax. That is incorrect. We all pay for tolls as the service and trucking industries divert their toll costs onto Texas consumers when we buy their goods and services.

In addition, providing 70-year contracts to foreign road & toll companies gives them 80 percent off the top revenue from tolls. Obviously, this is a cost-INEFFECTIVE method of developing roadways at a huge cost to Texans. The State generally receives several million dollars up front from these private companies for providing the contracts. However, the trail of that money is invisible to hardworking Texans and is used for special interests.

Furthermore, often the State or its toll authority borrows money to build toll roads also via bond packages that present a long term debt to Texans and an increase to property taxes.

Very often toll roads are not even needed, as per the proposed 2 toll lanes on MoPac Expressway which will do little to ease the traffic flow. Instead, MoPac should be widened and better materials should be used to ensure its longevity and thereby actually easing the flow of traffic.

Legislation protects the private concern and/or public tolling authority from any real oversight and enables either to raise the toll costs at any whim without needed approval from Texans or an independent oversight authority.

Above all else we need to get smart. 
Toll roads are bad news for the majority of Texans. Legislation also permits tax or other revenue meant for building and maintaining our roads to be diverted to other interests. This needs to stop. In addition, the freeze on gas taxes must be removed to allow for inflation and cost-of-living adjustments and the fact that new vehicles use less gas than did older vehicles.

Lastly, toll roads are a slick way to increase revenues without providing any REAL improvements or easing the traffic flow. There are many other ways to build, improve and maintain our roadways and we need to explore those instead of aggressively building toll roads as a panacea for our traffic ills.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Treatment for The Public Education Merry-go-Round...

It fascinates me that legislators continue to believe and tell the public that they "aim to ensure quality" of public education. They simply do NOT know how to do that and they do NOT have the training to do that. Neither do business people who constantly direct legislators on how to provide quality to public education and who in turn are asked to join committees on public education. Neither can The State Board of Education, which is too political and special interest driven to do it.
Only parents, students, school administrators and teachers have the knowledge and/or training to get public education back on track.
The SBOE should be dismantled. School-Based Management should replaced the SBOE at each district because management should be at the local level.
Get rid of the nonsense State tests that prove nothing about what a child has learned. Educational progress should be determined by the schools via a child's entire record by each teacher who observes each child and administers tests in the classroom. Teach learning for learning's sake and not for some obscure and unsubstantiated test. Help children better learn the basics: reading, writing and mathematics.
Treat teachers as professionals, give them a reasonable salary and ensure they get the proper training. Provide mentors, a.k.a., established teachers, for every new teacher hired into the system. Parents should be involved in their children's learning. Establish business collaboratives so children may be mentored by members of the business community.
All of these things will provide a better quality of education.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

City of Austin looks to push housing bond again in November election

It doesn't matter that the voters put down the previous attempt.

Wealthy special interests ALWAYS do this. If the people vote no they keep on trying it with different wording every possible election until it gets approved. They have the time and money to do this and it always works, even if it takes a while.

That's how the extravagant and unnecessary Hays County Road Bond got pushed through. That's how most special interest propositions get approved.

Hopefully, voters will knock down special interest whims whenever they arise.

Monday, January 7, 2013

$3 Million for MoPac Improvements in Central Texas?

Improvements?    This is a complete waste of tax dollars and other money.  It is only a high priority for special interests and NOT for the Texas commuter.   Some things just don't change in a state that simply doesn't care all that much about its citizens.

The proposed N. MoPac toll lanes also are NOT in the best interest of the Texas community.  They will do little to ease traffic on that expressway.  The toll road mentality has run amok and Texas voters are permitting it to happen.
MoPac needs to be widened and it needs better road materials for repairs.  The money "found" and borrowed for the toll lanes should be going instead to bettering the original roadway.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Boo-hoo! – The poor rich people will pay more in taxes

By now you probably heard that Congress approved the “fiscal cliff” plan, which is what I knew it would do. There was no way that Congress would let the Bush tax breaks end; that is a no-brainer. 
The wealthy population in this nation would not permit that. So, are we saved? No. But at least the ultra wealthy will have to pay a larger few percentage points of their taxes. When a mega-wealthy man like Mitt Romney only pays a mere 16 percent of his vast earnings in taxes, it is a travesty. How greedy do millionaires need to be?
Congress will have to work on more cuts to spending and the wealthy will try to get rid of, or privatize, Social Security and the social programs (Medicare and Medicaid) that they do not need for themselves. There will be many more hard-fought battles over what to cut. Meanwhile, the poor can get their increased taxes back via their tax returns (if they know how) and the wealthy always can circumvent paying more taxes.
So, for now Congress only delayed needed action. Big surprise.