The Lone Star State is in Turmoil
Last week, as part of the Republican Party's thinly veiled "Tea Bag" parties, Texas Governor Rick Perry threatened to secede from the United States because he is "fed up" with the Federal government. Only in Bush Country! Waiting in the wings to run for President of Texas is Chuck Norris. No, I'm not making this stuff up. Here is Governor Perry with the sponsors and promoters of the Tea Bag movement, FOX NEWS:
Yesterday, Texas House members virtually wiped out Gov. Perry's office budget in order to help veterans and the mentally ill. With little debate, the House on a voice vote approved erasing 96 percent of the nearly $24 million that budget writers had recommended for Perry's office operation over the next two years. Some Democrats cast the House's move as a rebuke of the governor's recent comments about Texas seceding from the Union.
"That's the headline: 'Two days after governor says we ought to secede, House zeroes out the governor's budget,' " said Appropriations Committee vice chairman Richard Raymond, D-Laredo.
The raid on the governor's money came as the House debated a two-year, $178.4 billion budget that includes $11 billion of federal stimulus money but protects a state "rainy-day fund" expected to swell in two years to $9.1 billion.
On teacher merit pay, the House voted overwhelmingly to break a requirement that teachers be judged by their students' performance on standardized tests.
Instead, all decisions on incentive pay would be made by local school districts. Through their state formula funding, districts would get all $343 million that budget writers had recommended for merit pay. Texas has the nation's largest experiment with teacher merit pay, though teacher groups oppose it.
"It's probably how we should've done it in the first place," said Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, author of the plan. It passed, 146-0.
Cuts to Perry's budget were proposed by House Democratic caucus chairwoman Jessica Farrar of Houston, who siphoned $4 million away for veterans' programs, and Rep. John Davis, R-Houston. He took $18.7 million more, for community mental health "crisis services" that try to keep the mentally ill out of jail and emergency rooms.
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