Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dallas ISD Board Meeting, children suffering, and Texas HB 354

The filled-to-capacity Dallas ISD Board meeting this evening was an exceptionally sad event.  Fourty speakers addressed the planned loss of teachers in their school, and other budget cut trauma being inflicted by the $27 billion dollar Texas deficit. Children spoke of their loss, of their fear of loosing teachers. I left after about 10 speakers. 

It was simply too much. The problem is a state budget deficit. This evening many good and noble parents, children, and citizens were speaking out in attempts to protect the schools they know.  To listen to this, while knowing this is only the tip of the iceberg, grew more frightening with every speaker. The same agony is going on in every district in Texas!

What added to that frustration was knowing that the regressive taxation system, one built over the years by Texas politicians directed by paid lobbiests, has led to the human tragedy now unfolding.  Unless there are significant changes made in our Texas taxation system such problems will continue. 

The web site has a painful two page summary of the state and local tax rates in Texas listed by income level.  This information is also addressed in a Dallas Morning News article from November of 2009.  It shows that the poorest 20% of families in Texas pay 12.2% of their income toward state and local taxes. The next 20% of families, up to a $31,000 annual income, pay 10.2% of their income in state and local taxes. The most wealthy 1% of families in Texas pay only 3% of their income in state and local taxes.

If these 100,000 most wealthy Texas families, with an average annual income of about $2 million in 2011, were to have their share of the state and local tax burden raised by 5 percentage points, almost $10 billion could be generated to cut the Texas budget disaster nearly in half, even without the Texas Rainy Day Fund!   Even with such a change the poorest Texans would still be paying a proportion of their income into state and local taxes that is over 50% higher than the rate paid by the 100,000 most wealthy Texas families! How can you compare the suffering between these two groups?

I've been told repeatedly today that a state income tax this will not happen "in Texas."   Are we not telling the truth about what is about to happen to our students, our elderly, and the poor in Texas?  Allow those legislators who are willing to protect the rich while allowing 4,800,000 students to suffer to stand up and vote so they can be counted!  Transparency is needed!  We must know what our legislators are doing.  Is this suffering being ignored?  Then Texas voters can vote at the ballot box after they have have seen what our schools are like next year after the planned cuts.

Support Texas HB 354 and bring it to discussion, possible amendments, and a vote.  Legislators must be counted!  Just go to the Texas Legislature online and contact the members of the Ways and Means Committee where the bill is now assigned.  They have the power to both add any needed amendments and pass HB 354 to the floor for a vote.