Thursday, June 23, 2011


The special session that began May 31st will come to an end next week. No more than 30 days per special session. That’s the law. However, don’t be surprised if there is another special session called, or maybe two more before it is all said and done.

Mind you there is a super majority in Austin and they still have yet to get the budget balanced for the next biennium. Of course they have all the emergencies taken care of, but you already know that story.

The constitution requires that the state of Texas to have a balanced budget. I am not sure that the writers of that requirement defined balanced in the same manner it is being defined in Austin today. I am not sure that normal accounting procedures can tell you the whole story.

Balancing the budget with smoke and mirrors is simply delaying the inevitable. Using dedicated funds such as the 911 and Trauma fund do not truly balance the budget. Delaying payments due until the next budget cycle do not reflect sound budgeting principles. Basically it is lying to the taxpayer.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just delay or postpone our obligations to some future date? Why not renew your vehicle registration and tell the state you will pay next year. Think Rick would go for that?

Another interesting aspect of the tricks used to balance the budget might well make those special license plates not so special. Each year over 100 organizations including the University of Texas, Special Olympics and Girl Scouts earn collectively $2.5 million from specialty license plates voluntarily purchased by drivers across Texas.

The plates cost an extra $30 over the regular registration fees. Of that extra $30 organizations receive $22, $7.50 goes to the state highway fund and 50 cents goes to the county in which the vehicle is registered. Under the current budget bill half of the $22 that organizations receive would be deferred until 2013.

The idea is that turning that revenue into state income would help balance the budget. Bottom line is that the longer the money sits in Austin the more attractive it becomes for Austin to want to keep it for some other purpose. Another thought is what if the economy has not rebounded in 2013? Then what? Take the other half and defer it for another two years?

The sad thing here is that many of these organizations depend on this money to support their programs. This will leave some organizations hundreds of thousands short for their next budget. So before you purchase that special plate in support of your favorite organization just remember that plate is not near as special as it could be thanks to our leadership in Austin.

Monday, June 13, 2011


I was recently reminded by an Inside Milam County follower that it has been a some time since I have written on my blog. Truth is it has been a while, but it’s not because there has been nothing to blog about. It has been more of a problem with what to blog on.

I have been waiting to see something significant on the issues facing Milam County in the County Judge’s weekly news column, but his “I” reports do not share with the taxpayers the reality of what is going on and how it will affect Milam County residents in the future. He does a good job of sharing his thoughts, but seems like they are not always related to the realities that surround us.

Another issue for me has been how to get across the real issues that face Milam County and Texas at this point in time. I mean we have handled the Perry “emergency” issues and yet still do not have the issues not deemed emergencies resolved. Simple unimportant things like immigration, border protection, public education and other matters that do and will affect Milam County and the state.

In my search to keep current on the issues and try to find a way to share with my readers the reality and the real irony I came across an article that pretty well sums up what has happened and where we are at this point in time. Can’t take credit for any of the writing, but can say my thoughts are along the same lines. The column by Martin Rick Duiker appeared in the June 6th Austin American Statesman.

Under the big top, they’re juggling with our futures

‘Quick, send in the clowns. Don't bother — they're here.'

— Stephen Sondheim

Clowns? You bet. Comic relief can help all of us muddle through this crisis-in-the-making cobbled up in the Texas Capitol.

Check out the light side. We've got Daffy, Goofy and the rest of the gang in the Texas Legislature doing their best imitation of "Animal House," leaving the rest of us to either laugh or cry at the political circus playing out.

Here's a thought: Relax, enjoy the show, but understand, of course, that while the political slapstick continues, an economic tsunami of disastrous proportions is roaring down on Texas.

There are hints the legislative antics might be a sideshow, a clever con artist trick to keep voters' eyes off of the hidden agenda: the tea party's push to choke off funding for essential governmental functions.

Consider how legislators played Trivial Pursuit on the taxpayers' dime, burning time with noncritical issues: spanking (yeah, spanking), packing weapons on college campuses and statutes to allow lawmakers to tote six-shooters.

They played doctor, too, requiring sonograms for pregnant women considering abortion. They wrestled with enormously vital issues such as breeding puppies, bare-handed fishing (seriously) and even cockfighting.

Did the goofiness end there? Nope. They clowned around with horned toads and snake welfare, 85 mph speed limits, sanctuary cities legislation and gerrymandering.

You might wonder whether solutions for issues of immediate concern for most Texans — education financing, for instance — spun out of this funfest. Well, no.

Public education faces a $4 billion shortfall, a disastrous slash guaranteed to degrade a program already near the bottom nationally.

In-our-face immigration concerns haven't been solved.

Texas is on the ropes, and issues that will have an enormous effect on the lives and welfare of its residents are on the table.

But wait, they're back in session. Good luck, Texas.

Duiker, a documentary videographer and producer, lives in Austin.

Well said and to the point. I just wonder how many more tax dollars will be spent on special sessions this year for the circus.