Good news today. The Robin Hood scheme set up by the Texas gubernatorial (emphasis on the 'goober' part) administration of George W. Bush was figuratively torn apart by the Texas Supreme Court. Now the Legislature, under Gov. Rick Hairy -cough- I mean Perry, must reinvent the school funding system, much like Madonna had to reinvent her career as her adoptive homeland of Britain thought her a great poser.
The reason? Our system now consists of a scheme similar to the "rob from the rich to give to the poor" ethic most attributed to Robin Hood and his merry men. In this case, Robin Hood is our Legislature, the riches are the property taxes taken by taxing entities and the redistribution is determined by taking a percentage of the property taxes from a property-rich school districts and then giving it to form more equity with property-poor school districts.
The Texas Supreme Court said that this redistribution of wealth equates to a state property tax, which is outlawed by our constitution. If you didn't know, we also don't have a state income tax, but Texas has one of the highest sales tax rates in the nation.
Why the big hoopla? Well, this decision forces the Legislature to find and implement a new system to fund our public schools. Because we are stuck in a rut and have one of the worst statewide public school systems in the nation, this is an opportunity to drastically change a failing system into a leader in its own realm. (It also gives legislators an opportunity to redeem themselves by June, which I must say I'm not too crazy about, especially since this is the same Legislature that couldn't solve our school funding woes but found it in their own hearts to give themselves a raise.)
Something I came across today kind of disturbed me.
I was doing a little bit of background research on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), and I discovered that on a certain emmission reduction advisory board there are 22 members, 15 of which are appointed members. Five of the 15 are appointed by the governor, another five by the lieutenant governor and the final five are appointed by the Texas House speaker.
The three men that hold these positions are Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Texas House Majority Speaker Tom Craddick. In political ideology, these men rarely differ. All three are set to make Texas one of the most business-friendly states and all three happen to be Republican. So, you tell me if you trust that these three men who appoint about 75 percent of this advisory panel will actually spread the representation over citizens, consumers, environmental activists and stakeholders effected by emmissions.
Just as I suspected, approximately 66 percent of the appointed members of the emmissions reduction advisory panel were representatives of industries that pollute through industrial emmissions, including air conditioning manufacturers, electric power, trucking, fuel, automobile and a few others. Shocking, no? I didn't think so. Only one person, one appointee, represented the environmental community.
So, my last entry went off on the problems with more than 90 percent of Texas being under the realm of private ownership. Today I'm telling it like it is about our state government and the lack of representation on decision-making panels and advisory boards, especially those that deal with our need for clean air to breath, clean water to drink and clean soil to farm. Is there a pattern forming?
I'll leave you with a not-so-random quote plucked from the blogosphere:
"Particularly as yesterday was a bad day and this was just the foetid cherry atop the poo-cake."
Matthew Jones, a la Rant-a-Matt