Friday, June 3, 2011

True Grit is Hard to Find (in Austin)

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. – George SantayanaOur allegedly enlightened elected officials in the 82nd Texas Legislature are doing it again.  They are ignoring the collective will of the people and refusing to legalize gaming despite an indisputable need for more revenue.  Seduced by the recently elected tea bag enthusiast republicans into believing they can cut their way to prosperity, they are making draconian cuts in (what else) public education and health/human services.  It goes without saying that these sagacious republicans and their cronies have no concerns about these cuts since all their children attend private schools and none of their aged relatives are in a nursing home paid by Medicaid.   What is worse is that even in the Special Session (the normal session has concluded) there is no meaningful discussion about increasing the State’s revenue.  That is how to achieve prosperity – by increasing revenue, in fact, it’s the only way.  Without increasing revenue, the 83rd Legislature (that will convene in two years) will be facing the same type of grim shortfall that is faced today, or maybe even worse.   Do we really want to go through another brutally ugly session in 2013?  If we do not face the facts and find ways to increase revenue that is exactly what will take place.   With this dire need for new revenue, one would think that legalizing gambling would be a no brainer.  The majority of Texans favor legalized gambling in Texas.  Every single poll clearly indicates this to say nothing of the hundreds of thousands of Texans that cross over into Louisiana and/or Oklahoma to play at the casinos in our neighboring states.  Texans spend an untold amount of money gambling in addition to purchasing fuel, food, and countless other goods and services from our neighboring states when they could be buying the same things from Texans, instead.   Since legal gaming would only serve to address a portion of the shortfall, some brave elected official needs to demonstrate true Texan testicular fortitude and tell the people of Texas the hard truth – the State needs to increase taxes to raise the rest of the revenue we need to move forward, rather than fall backward.   It is that simple and nothing short of that is going to suffice.  Neither progress nor prosperity is cheap, free, or easy.  It is time to “Man Up” folks and begin an honest adult discussion about how to plan a successful future for Texans.  

Addendum:  The Texas Senate Finance Chairman, (R) Steve Ogden, agrees with me about not having solved the real problems and the 2013 session having to revisit the same issues.