LatinaLista — Things aren’t going so hot in Texas these days. First, the state is faced with a revenue shortfall estimated at $13 billion, but the state legislature is said to actually have to raise revenue closer to $25 billion to close the deficit.
Secondly, Texas found itself the subject of a recent New York Times op-ed penned by columnist Paul Krugman. In the column, Krugman hangs the Lone Star State’s dirty laundry out for all to read:
The truth is that the Texas state government has relied for years on smoke and mirrors to create the illusion of sound finances in the face of a serious “structural” budget deficit — that is, a deficit that persists even when the economy is doing well. When the recession struck, hitting revenue in Texas just as it did everywhere else, that illusion was bound to collapse.
Given the complete dominance of conservative ideology in Texas politics, tax increases are out of the question. So it has to be spending cuts.
Yet Mr. Perry wasn’t lying about those “tough conservative decisions”: Texas has indeed taken a hard, you might say brutal, line toward its most vulnerable citizens. Among the states, Texas ranks near the bottom in education spending per pupil, while leading the nation in the percentage of residents without health insurance. It’s hard to imagine what will happen if the state tries to eliminate its huge deficit purely through further cuts.
I don’t know how the mess in Texas will end up being resolved. But the signs don’t look good, either for the state or for the nation.
One would think that finding a way to cut the budget that didn’t impose further hardship on those who don’t share Perry’s income tax status would be a priority for someone who is not hiding his ambitions to run for President one day.
Yet, on the first day of the new state legislative season,
Texas’ longest serving governor, declared to legislators that the state was faced with two emergencies that deserved priority over fixing the state budget. The priorities, in Perry’s mind, are: private property rights and abolishing sanctuary cities.
According to Perry: “Property ownership remains an essential freedom for Texans and we must continue our efforts to properly protect it.”
If that is the case, then he’s setting himself up to eat his words big time since he’s such a staunch supporter of the border wall along the Texas-Mexico border. As everyone remembers, private property, in some cases, ancestral property, was seized to build that wall.
Is this to say that Perry will go to bat for those families whose properties were seized by the federal government in the name of national security?
His second emergency priority has not just disappointed the majority of his Latino constituents across the state but has disgusted everyone who thought he was stronger than his peers in cowering to those conservatives intent on legislating discrimination and racism.
Perry said to state legislators that “We must abolish sanctuary city rules in this state!” He continued, “… free up our police officers, our peace officers, to do their jobs; keeping our families and neighborhoods safe.”
Dallas is one of those Texas cities identified as a sanctuary city and whose crime rate, according to the latest police report, has been continuously declining over the last seven years.
Dallas, with 73,286 reported offenses in 2010, has seen a 36 percent reduction in crime over the last seven years. Violent crime has fallen nearly 50 percent over nine years.
Houston, another Texas city said to be a sanctuary city, is also experiencing a decline in violent crime.
The number of murders declined in Houston for the fifth consecutive year in 2010, and the number of homicides also dropped in Harris County’s unincorporated areas, even as the population increased in both places.
El Paso, another Texas city considered to be a sanctuary city, registered the lowest murder rate recorded in 46 years. In fact, El Paso is consistently awarded the nation’s safest city.
Austin, Perry’s adopted hometown since being elected as governor, is also accused of being a sanctuary city but it too has declining rates of crime.
Violent crime in Austin was down from 2009 to 2010.
The latest numbers show a 5.6 percent decline in violent crime from year to year.
The list of Texas cities registering a decline in violent crime goes on but somehow that memo has not reached the governor’s desk.
Or it has and he would rather verbally pander to a base that has been blatant in its discrimination towards Latino immigrants, and in turn, towards Latinos who collectively now comprise 37 percent of the state’s population.
Ever since Perry declared his priority to abolish sanctuary cities, he has been mum on how it will be done, which cities will be targeted or where the money will come in this cash-strapped state.
Physically removing people who are financially and socially contributing to the local economies is a dumb idea, especially when there’s ample proof that they are not contributing to an imaginary crime wave.
But in this political climate, and in Texas especially, it’s not about the truth or reality of the situation but all about telling a certain constituency what they want to hear — no matter how it impacts the second largest demographic in the state.