Here in Texas we’re facing a different horizon than we were two years ago. Last session, our state lawmakers were in a cost-cutting fervor that spared no one- hurting schools, women, and children in Texas. Despite having the opportunity to redo the wrongs from last session and fund necessary programs for millions of Texans, I have serious concerns about the budget I will be voting on today.
Despite the demand from a variety of school districts, teachers, parents, and advocacy groups over the past two years calling for fully funding our classrooms, this budget falls short of what it requires to fund Texas schools. The House budget still needs an additional $5.3 billion to fund public education back to 2008 levels. When accounting for inflation and Texas’ growing enrollment, schools still will not have any more money per student than was given to them two years ago.
For now we cannot see the impact of the House and Senate proposals on each school district specifically, but from what we know already, this budget doesn’t solve what we were sent to Austin to fix.
I remain committed to my district, and public school students in Texas. This budget only puts a band aid on a larger problem. As lawmakers, we should be making forward-thinking decisions, not short-term solutions that get us past the next election.
Along with that, we still do not have a plan for Medicaid expansion in Texas. On Monday, Governor Perry with Senators Cornyn and Cruz along with other Republican lawmakers continued the stalemate that is keeping 1.5 million Texans from receiving health care. This sort of political posturing has prevented any real discussions on not only Medicaid expansion, but Medicaid reform.
My discussions with medical leaders in El Paso and the rest of Texas has emphasized the need to fully address both Medicaid expansion and reform. We have the opportunity to invest in quality care for those most in need. While this week could be an opportunity for us to seriously address millions of uninsured Texans, Republicans in our state have chosen political posturing over Texans.
It’s easy to be complacent when there was so little to begin with, but settling for this budget continues to put every day Texans at risk: it’s the teacher who pays more out of their own pocket for supplies because they are willing to sacrifice for the education of our younger generation, the college student whose debt increases because they’re receiving less financial aid each year, the uninsured young woman who can’t afford access to the vital health screenings she needs.
These are peoples’ everyday lives, and we need to fight for them.