Even The Economist Thinks Texas is too Fiscally Conservative

EconomistCaliforniaVTexas.jpeg
The Economist isn't conservative in the American sense of the word, which has come to be defined as much as by views on abortion and Jesus as by a desire for limited government, but it's consistent in its support of free market capitalism relatively unfettered by government.

The magazine did endorse Obama's bid for reelection, but that was more a function of Mitt Romney's slipperiness on most important issues than of any shared ideology. It has long been a fan of Texas' business-friendly approach.

But the magazine thinks the state has taken that concept a bit too far. An article published today warns of "the pitfalls of Texan austerity."

Those pitfalls were revealed, paradoxically enough, by Comptroller Susan Combs' recent announcement that the state has $8.8 billion left over from the previous session. As the magazine points out, that surplus was largely the result of Combs' overly cautious 2011 revenue estimate.

Under Texas law, the state may not spend more than the comptroller expects it to have. The 2011 estimate, in other words, meant that the state was in effect facing a budget shortfall of more than $20 billion. In order to stay in the black, Texas had cut spending across the board.

Texas had some $9.4 billion in a "rainy day" fund, and that money could have been used to soften the blow. The legislature, which is controlled by Republicans, did take several billion dollars out of the fund in the end, but reluctantly. Most of the shortfall was made up by deep cuts. The rapidly growing public-school system, for example, was allocated about $5 billion less than expected, given previous funding commitments.

Complicating the state's budgeting process is the fact that the Legislature only meets every other year, and thus has to predict what revenue will be available two years down the line.

"Little surprise that they err on the side of caution," The Economist concludes. "But an abundance of caution may have undesirable consequences, too."



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21 comments
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Oops didn't have any qualms spending $10,000 a month rent stolen from taxpayers, while the Mansion was being fabulously upgraded.

CornyDoggy
CornyDoggy

Ideology is the worst enemy of the 'dismal science'.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

Yeah, much as I hate to join the choir on this one, as long as people keep looking at public schools and demanding more funding for a problem that has nothing to do with money, we'll never fix this jalopy.


Our schools are like Model-T Fords outfitted with killer stereos, bitchin' paint and big-ass rims.

 Underneath it all, it's still a Model-T.

Americano
Americano

I didn't realize the State of Texas had elected The Economist to run our economy.

j.walter.miller
j.walter.miller

The NEA temper tantrum continues.  Way to carry that water, Eric.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

Riddled the state with lawsuits for underfunding education.  Anyone remember the term "unfunded mandates?"  And, now the richer districts have to throw more into the pot.  Even our conservative judges are appalled. 

cantkeepthetruthdown
cantkeepthetruthdown

WE NEED TO THROW MORE MONEY IN THE SINKING HISPANIC HOLE OF PUBLIC EDUCATION!!! 

pak152
pak152

"Complicating the state's budgeting process is the fact that the Legislature only meets every other year, and thus has to predict what revenue will be available two years down the line" and there is something wrong with that. if only the US Congress would meet every other year we might get something out of them. 

"that surplus was largely the result of Combs' overly cautious 2011 revenue estimate." would rather an overly cautious estimate than an overly exuberant one. Just look at what happens when a tax is increased the prediction is that x increase in tax receipts will occur when in actuality we see a decrease in tax receipts.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

What blistering criticism!  "Abundance of caution may have unforeseen consequences."  Let's see.  The government should follow the law on use of official projections.  Check.  The government maintained a reserve fund per law.  Check.  The government used 20% of that fund to mitigate the cuts.  Check.  Some people thought they should have gotten more money.  Check.  Results:  stayed in black, had more funds to spend next year, state economy continues to improve.  Nothing to see here folks.  Move along.

CornyDoggy
CornyDoggy

@TheCredibleHulk You must be talking about suburban schools because the urban school facilities are certainly not like that.  

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@Americano No.  You elected Oops, who has very little regard for the health and education of millions of Texans.

bifftannen
bifftannen

@MikeWestEast Only this "shortfall" was used to lower or outright kill the funding to programs that Republicans didn't like. It was all a ruse.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@CornyDoggy @TheCredibleHulk 

I don't follow.  Are you saying that urban schools are not trying to fix institutional and parental shortcomings by trying to "fund" them out of existence? Because I don't buy that.

CornyDoggy
CornyDoggy

@TheCredibleHulk 

I'm saying that if you have ever attended DISD, you wouldn't be able to tell where these increased "funds" went.  Crumbling buildings, outdated technology, even the textbooks and sports equipment are older and in worse shape than their suburban counterparts.


Based on my own anecdotal evidence, I don't see how the per capita spending is equal between suburban and urban districts.  Urban districts still look like Model-T's, inside and out.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

@scottindallas @cantkeepthetruthdown HP wastes a lot of money on ridiculous things.  A parking garage?  Athletic facilities that pro football teams don't mind using?  Give me a break.  I don't care because the parents there are wasting their own money.  In no way is that standard for acceptable education.  I went to a small rural school that had a celebration when we got bunsen burners in the lab.  Compared to that benchmark, DISD is doing very well in the resource department.  I did well because I made the most of what I got there.  The same opportunity is there in every DISD school if students want to take it.  Shoving more money towards it won't change things.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@cantkeepthetruthdown @scottindallas more than it has.  I think it should likely spend per kid what HP, and Plano spend.  Which would be more.  The schools are underfunded by $5billion.  Your sophistic studies by the usual sophists don't hold water.  Big city schools have more complex issues, and their cost per student is higher.  If your study controlled for that, your study wouldn't have any clear conclusions.  Agenda over data gets you the fools that you listen to, who take you, rightly for a bigger fool.

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