(Austin, TX)Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today released the following statement on Governor Rick Perry’s State of the State speech:
“Governor Perry needs to realize that Texas is not going to build a better future for its families through catchy slogans and bumper stickers.
“Last session, we were told we could not use additional revenue in the Rainy Day Fund to save our children’s schools, protect vital health insurance programs, keep financial aid for college students and more. It had to be saved for an even rainier day in the future. Now it can be used for other priorities.
“Today, we are told that we shouldn’t invest in Texas, we should just keep cutting taxes, so that the wealthiest Texans get even more of a break, while working Texans get pennies. The governor calls for a $1.8 billion tax cut and says nothing about the $5 billion cut from Texas schools, the $4.7 billion cut from Medicaid, the $1.5 billion cut from colleges and the 43,000 students who lost their financial aid. Those who were damaged by the draconian cuts can just get over it.
“The governor said the state of Texas has never been stronger. Tell that to the tens of thousands of children without health care. Tell that to the teacher who now has 35 kids in class because of the cuts from last session. Tell that to the mother-to-be who cannot get pre-natal care. Tell that to the tens of thousands of Texans who will not get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act because of Texas’ short-sighted intransigence.
“We are 44th in child poverty, 1st in percentage of uninsured children, 50th in per capita spending on mental health, 2nd highest rate of families in hunger, 47th in SAT scores, and 50th in percentage of SAT scores, 44th in college enrollment.
“In Texas, everything that ought to be down is up, and everything that should be up is down! That is not strength; it is a glaring reminder of how much more work we have to do to ensure all Texans have the opportunity to achieve their dreams.
“Most Texans are not cheering the results of last session, nor calling it ‘success’. Other states trying to out-cut us and encourage a race to the bottom on health care and the environment is not ‘success’. More of the same is not going to build a strong future Texas.
“We need to Invest in Texas. We need to ensure we work toward a state budget that is not only fair, responsible, and protects Texas’ most vulnerable populations, but also invests in our future and begins to address the needs of our growing and changing state.
“We need to pass Senator Carona and I’s bipartisan plan to review our state budget and plan for our future must include a thorough review of tax expenditures and our severely regressive tax system.
“We need to demand the Rainy Day Fund be used to help restore last session’s cuts to public education, family planning and health care, expand Medicaid and increase funding for higher education. We don’t need to enact risky, failed voucher schemes that will only damage our public schools.
“We need to restore cuts to providers and programs, including family planning and the Women’s Health Program. Ensure that the state funds growth in its programs and takes advantage of opportunities to insure individuals, whether it is through expansion of Medicaid or through funds available from the Affordable Health Care Act.”