Tuesday, January 29 was a big day in politics. President Obama presented his plan for immigration changes that will primarily affect America’s Latino population. Previously, a bi-partisan committee of U.S. Senators also presented a plan. While the details of the plans will be hotly debated over the next few months, it may be that immigration reform will be passed this year.
Meanwhile, Texas Governor Rick Perry laid out his State of the State speech before the Texas Legislature. After 13 years of serving as Governor, he shared with us that he will “scrub the budget” and look for ways to refund taxes to Texans. Personally, I found it fascinating that there is still more budget to be scrubbed. Governor Perry has had 13 years to clean up the budget and the Legislature has been completely controlled by Republicans since 2002. The budget ought to be fairly well scrubbed.
Meanwhile, he also suggested using a portion of the Rainy Day funds for the state’s water plan. This is a truly critical policy issue for the State of Texas. In the early 1990’s, then Lt. Governor Bullock told me that “Water, Nancy, it’s going to be all about water next century”. And that has proven so very true. Texas must address our complex water management issues. Apparently, the still “in need of being scrubbed” budget, cannot find any additional funds for water management so they will use Rainy Day funds. Doesn’t matter to me – just do something!
The Governor also mentioned infrastructure and charged the Legislature to fund improvements. Thank goodness. With all of Texas’ growth, our roads and infrastructure are not keeping up. I hope they can scrub the budget and find more money to fund highways.
Perry touched on education policy without going into too much detail on funding. Most attributed this to the pending lawsuit against the state by a number of school districts. It is expected that the Legislature may have to address funding in a Special Session after the court rules. School-choice remains a hot topic for the Session as well as testing reforms.
Governor Perry, I do want some money back. How about providing more education funding so my local property taxes decrease? For all the budget “scrubbing” over the last few years, more costs have been passed to local governments. This has caused significant local tax increases. If the state could figure out how to help solve that problem, most Texans will benefit. Hey, we don’t have a income tax in Texas but if you own property, you pay serious taxes.
Interestingly, the Governor did not address immigration reform. He’s leaving that one to the feds but plenty of legislators have ideas, including how to separate Texas from federal “mandates”.
It’s going to be a fun year!