What Passage of HB 1, The State Budget, Means to Texans
April 4, 2011

From doomsday predictions to claims of fiscal responsibility, the new state  budget passed by Texas Lawmakers in the House Sunday night is certain to have a huge impact on you and your family.

We already know that school districts around the state are getting substantially less funding, $8 Billion dollars less,  and are being forced to layoff  teachers and make cuts that hurt the classrooms.

Some also fear that nursing homes will also shutdown and there will be massive job losses around the state. 

After the vote on House Bill 1, elected leaders reacted along party lines.  I’m posting the full statements I’ve received so far. Starting first with a statement from republican Governor Rick Perry followed by statements from several Houston democrats.

Statement by Gov. Rick Perry on Passage of House Bill 1 

“Today’s action by the House is another step toward achieving fiscal responsibility and ensuring state government lives within its means. House members set priorities for state spending and found savings, and thanks to their leadership, this budget paves the way to help Texas recover from the impacts of the national economic recession.

 “You cannot tax or spend your way to prosperity, and Texans expect their elected leaders to govern under that truth when it comes to taxpayer dollars. I look forward to working with members of the Senate as we continue to move a budget through the legislative process that lays the foundation for a prosperous future while funding our state’s priorities, and preserving the balance of the Rainy Day Fund without raising taxes on families or employers.”

Representative Farrar Takes a Stand Against ‘Job-Killing’ State Budget

AUSTIN, TX–The Texas House of Representatives voted 98 to 49 to approve $27 billion in cuts to public schools, cuts to nursing home and health care services, and cuts to jobs from the state budget over the next two years.  House Democratic Leader Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) commented that, “Writing a budget in tough economic times is about setting priorities.  In my opinion, the Republicans in control got the priorities all wrong.  Instead of rolling up their sleeves and doing the hard work they were elected to do, the Republican majority in the House voted for a ‘cuts-only’ budget that will cost our state hundreds of thousands of jobs, and devastate public education and nursing home care.”

“Instead of working on real solutions to protect our priorities in the state budget, the Republican majority was more interested in scoring ideological points and partisan politics. 

A recent report by the state’s non-partisan Legislative Budget Board indicated that teacher layoffs and other cuts included the budget would have a ripple effect, eventually costing over 325,000 jobs.

“This fiscal mess and our state’s ongoing structural deficit are result of corporate tax loopholes and Governor Perry’s insistence that the Legislature pass a ‘cuts only’ budget.  That is why House Democrats support a plan protect our state’s important priorities through a mix of smart budget cuts, using the state’s Rainy Day Fund savings account, and closing massive corporate tax loopholes that prevent some big businesses to pay their fair share to fund our schools. 

 “Almost eighty years ago, President Franklin Roosevelt led our country and passed the New Deal — helping to secure the future for generations.  By failing to protect our priorities in this budget, Texas House Republicans will have taken a major step backwards in history,” Representative Farrar concluded.

 Statement from Rep. Coleman on House Bill 1

 Austin–Representative Garnet F. Coleman (D-Houston) released the following statement in response to his vote against House Bill 1: 

I refuse to vote for a budget that will hurt children, harm our elderly, and risk the lives of Texans. In my 20 years as a state legislator, I’ve never seen a budget so devastating.  

The cuts in House Bill 1 are unsustainable and cut into the marrow. Our state may never recover from the cuts to essential state services in this bill, and maybe that’s the design. 

Texas should pass a budget that funds the needs of Texans. All we’ve done today is move around the deck chairs as the Titanic sinks.

State Representative Carol Alvarado Votes Against HB 1

 AUSTIN// State Representative Carol Alvarado voted against House Bill 1, the proposed House version of the state budget.  

“HB 1 is not a budget I can support.  The deep cuts seen in the proposal are detrimental to our public education system, our healthcare services and our state.  This proposal will put over 300,000 public and private sector jobs in jeopardy, affect the way we educate our children for years to come, close over 80% of Texas nursing homes,  have disastrous effects to our mental health services, and make it harder for students to pay for higher education on top of already rising tuition rates. ” said Alvarado. 

 “We should not have looked at a cuts-only approach to solving our budget shortfall.  We have a structural deficit that is not going away and although it is understandable that in tough times we all must look at ways to live within our means, we must also look for lasting solutions.  Just like Texas families do in tough times, we should be seeking out all sensible solutions in our reach to implement along with some cuts, such as utilizing majority of the Rainy Day Fund, closing extraneous loopholes in our business taxes, identifying predictable streams of new revenue, and attracting new business enterprises, such as gaming, to our state.”     

Rep. Walle Responds to Passage of State Budget

AUSTIN — Today State Representative Armando Walle (D-Houston) released the following statement in response to passage of House Bill 1, the general appropriations act, by the Texas House of Representatives: 

“Over the course of the lengthy budget debate, I fought alongside my Democratic colleagues in the House to protect important state priorities — defending jobs and public education and keeping nursing homes open.  At the same time, House Republicans overwhelmingly demonstrated their unwillingness to protect those important priorities.

On Friday, 89 Republicans rejected an amendment which would have saved tens of thousands of teacher jobs and kept our public schools funded at current levels.  Republicans were also wrong to force legislators to make false choices between important priorities such as jobs and health care. 

We have a moral obligation to protect our most vulnerable citizens, especially children and the elderly, but unfortunately this budget leaves them behind.  I support a responsible strategy combining smart budget cuts, use of the Rainy Day Fund and closing corporate tax loopholes to fund all of our important state priorities and strengthen our economy

Mayor Parker and Others Respond To Census Numbers
February 17, 2011

The new census numbers are out for the City of Houston and Texas.

Hispanics make up 38% of the state’s population while Houston did not gain as many new residents as predicted.

However, Mayor Annise Parker insists she will still move forward with a plan to add two new seats to city council.

I’ve posted her reaction to the census numbers along with reaction from State Reps. Garnet Coleman, Carol Alvarado and Jessica Farrar.

Mayor Parker Issues Statement About 2010 Census Numbers

“I am quite surprised by the numbers because all indications were that we had already reached a population of 2.1 million residents.  Because we are so close to that threshold, we are proceeding as planned with redistricting and the addition of two new City Council seats.  As part of this process, we have adopted a timeline and scheduled public meetings in each council district.  In addition, today, I appointed a special mayor’s committee to advise me as we proceed.” Committee members:
The Honorable Zinetta Burney
Penny Hess Butler
The Honorable Anthony Hall, Chair
The Honorable Roman Martinez
Mace Meeks
The Honorable Gordon Quan
Pat Sanchez
Adolfo Santos
The Honorable Sue Schechter

 More information on the Houston Census is available at:  http://2010.census.gov/news/xls/cb11cn37_tx_2010redistr.xls

 Statement from Legislative Study Group Chair Rep. Garnet F. Coleman on Release of U.S. Census Data
(AUSTIN) – Representative Garnet F. Coleman, chair of the Legislative Study Group House Caucus, released the following statement in response to the release of U.S. Census Data for the state of Texas:

“The Legislative Study Group looks forward to working with caucus members to ensure that Texas families are fairly represented by their government. The growth of communities and population shifts in our state as evidenced by the Census data show the need for a fair, open and transparent redistricting process that takes into account proper apportionment, socioeconomic and demographic data.” 

“We will work to ensure the interests of families and communities across the state are addressed.”

Statement from State Representative Carol Alvarado Regarding the Release of the 2010 United State Census Data 

 “With an increase of ­­­­­­­­4.3 million new residents, the release of the 2010 United States Census data confirmed the estimates that Texas has had a major growth in our population.  The data has also confirmed that this increase is directly related to the increase in our Latino community, which grew by a rate of 41.8% in our state and represents 37.6% of the overall Texas population.   

The Texas redistricting process should provide for fair and accurate representation of this data and should expand opportunities for Latinos.  The Latino community should receive three of the new Congressional seats or better and should be properly represented in the State Legislature and on the State Board of Education.”

State Representative Jessica Farrar

Austin, TX– “This Census data shows what lawmakers have known for generations.  Whether you are a Texan by birth or you ‘got here as soon as you could,’ Texas is a destination state that more and more people are proud to call home. 

These new Texas families cannot simply be welcomed.  The Texas Legislature must acknowledge our responsibility to these newest residents.  It must prop up the public schools, colleges, and universities, not gut them as the Republican supermajority is proposing.  To ensure a prosperous future, the Legislature must ensure that every new Texan has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

 With the new Census data, Texans deserve an open and honest redistricting process that ensures that their votes count.  The outcome of district boundaries should reflect the demographic growth and shifts in a way that maximizes, not minimizes, the votes of every Texan.  House Democrats will fight to protect the principle that every Texan be able to fully participate in the democratic process to elect the candidates of their choice. 

As the Legislature analyzes the new Census numbers, House Democrats will release periodic updates to help the public better understand the implications of the data.”