It appears the Texas state budget – you know, the one that Governor Rick Perry claimed and billions of dollars in surplus – is facing as much as a $25 billion shortfall. From Paul Krugman at the NY Times:
Wasn’t Texas supposed to be thriving even as the rest of America suffered? Didn’t its governor declare, during his re-election campaign, that “we have billions in surplus”? Yes, it was, and yes, he did. But reality has now intruded, in the form of a deficit expected to run as high as $25 billion over the next two years.
How bad is the Texas deficit? Comparing budget crises among states is tricky, for technical reasons. Still, data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities suggest that the Texas budget gap is worse than New York’s, about as bad as California’s, but not quite up to New Jersey levels.
The point, however, is that just the other day Texas was being touted as a role model (and still is by commentators who haven’t been keeping up with the news). It was the state the recession supposedly passed by, thanks to its low taxes and business-friendly policies. Its governor boasted that its budget was in good shape thanks to his “tough conservative decisions.”
Texas has been the posted child for slashing programs to achieve a “balanced budget” while cutting taxes. Of course, the simple fact is that there is only so much you can cut before the revenue side of the equation MUST increase. And Texas is finding out the hard way. They’re vying for the title of worst in education spending and already achieved that title when it come to the percentage of residents without health insurance. Where will they get more money?
The reasonable answer is: raise taxes. But this is anathema to conservatives. Their mantra of ”cut cut cut” in terms of taxes is coming to bite them in the rear. And what of Perry’s boasts of financial soundness?
But, the conservatives will blame this on just about everything but what it really is – bad math when it comes to how to fund the state coffers.