Later this year, the Texas Supreme Court will hear arguments from attorneys representing over 600 Texas school districts who claim they cannot properly educate Texas school children because the State does not provide enough money.
As a retired teacher who taught in 4 Texas public school districts over 30 years, I know first-hand that “money” does not equal “learning.”
Yet, Texas School Boards and Superintendents seem to always be screaming that the answer to low performing schools is more tax dollars.
Some offer complex explanations of how items from testing requirements to unfunded mandates drain the districts’ budgets – so much so – that hiring classroom teachers only occurs if funds are left over.
But could there be a much simpler explanation?
Something as basic as “needs vs wants”?
Did Lt Governor Patrick hit the nail on the head when he was quoted as saying:
“I am proud of the Texas Senate for uniting to produce a conservative, responsible, state budget that will sufficiently fund our state’s needs over the next biennium, while providing $3.8 billion in necessary tax relief to the businesses and property owners of Texas.” The Texas Senate figured a way to fund the “needs” of Texans and cut taxes. Why can’t 600+ Texas school districts figure it out?
Look closer at Patrick’s statement. Notice the two words: conservative and needs.
The Texas Senate budgeted for the “needs” of Texans, NOT for the “wants” of every Legislator or school superintendent.
That is the true fiscal difference between liberals and conservatives.
Conservatives believe taxpayer money should only be collected for “needs” that only government can provide, (roads, schools, military, etc.) while liberals believe they are ENTITLED to taxpayers supplying their “wants” (day care, health care, cell phones, etc.)
But so many education leaders are “liberals” these days, that often student “needs” and district “wants” are purposely mingled.
To prove the point, I tried a little experiment: comparing the spending habits of two public officials – a conservative who believes taxpayers should only fund the “needs” of government vs a liberal who believes taxpayers should be paying more to provide for “wants.”
I selected two public officials from my area who were both new to their offices –
Texas Lt Governor
Took office 1/13/2015
Took Office 12/1/14
I filed public information requests to find out how each official had spent public funds on “wants” vs “needs” from 1/1/15 thru 6/1/15.
Was there a significant difference? I will let you decide.
First – Office Needs
Both men were provided the same fully furnished office space their predecessors had used.
Conservative (Patrick) – The CapitalBuilding required the office be repainted between occupants. Furniture wasselected from current inventory. Nothing was purchased for redecorating his office.
Liberal (Colbert) – Hired a decorator and went shopping with the taxpayers’ money. Chose the new, modern style furnishings complete with a custom refrigerator. Gave the previous furnishingsto his newly hired assistant, Jimmy Wynn, for use in his new office.
Serving Cart 2,548.08
Custom Refrigerator 1,971.74
Conference Table 4,267.82
End Tables(3) 4,509.31
Executive Chair 966.46
Conference Chairs (6) 3,002.16
Guest Chairs (2) 1,837.29
Board Room Seating(10) 3,823.50
Board Room Buffet 1,697.06
Board Room Cart 2,423.01
Chrome Coat Rack 315.00
Design Fee 850.00
New Wall Paper 2,475.00
New Lighting 3,193.00
Total $ 0.00
Total $ 50,517.61
Second – Salary
Conservative (Patrick) – 2nd most powerful person
in the State.
Liberal (Colbert) – Oversees approximately
$ 600 per month
$ 16,250 per month
Fourth – Gov’t Issued Credit Card
Conservative (Patrick) – The Senate does not
issue credit cards.
Liberal (Colbert) – School district credit card.
Charged for travel; taking board members, district employees, consultants and vendors out for meals; technology supplies.
|School District MasterCard
Chilosos’s Taco House 20.75
Best Buy 324.95
Shady Grove 38.48
Reale’s Pizza 66.77
Courtyard by Marriott 769.88
Champions Restaurant 24.65
Shade Houston 56.25
Laurenzo’s Grille Dello 44.62
Laurenzo’s Grille Dello 53.19
Capital Visitor Parking 8.00
Lola Houston 20.52
Maggiano’s Houston 69.26
Chick-Fil-A Houston 10.15
Rudy’s Country Store 8.15
Reale’s Pizza 10.97
Green Mesquite BBQ 16.33
Marriott Austin 26.82
Marriott Austin 25.82
Marriott Austin 553.61
Babin’s Katy 42.68
Chick-Fil-A Houston 13.85
Shady Grove 17.56
Capital Grill 11.14
Shade Houston 44.97
Shade Houston 37.48
Embassy Suites Austin 20.00
|| Total 2,361.23
Is there really a difference in the way liberals and conservatives spend public dollars?
This simple experiment seems to show there is.
Do taxpayers work hard to pay their school district taxes because the superintendent “wants” a custom refrigerator for his office?
Do taxpayers work hard to pay their school district taxes because the superintendent “wants” to use his school district credit card to dine out with his assistants?
Is a school superintendent ENTITLED to plush office furnishings and a tax funded expense account?
That is for you to decide.
But the real multi-billion dollar question is:
If the 600+ school districts which are suing the taxpayers for more money would budget as the Texas Senate did – fund “needs” and leave out the “wants” – would they have enough money to educate our kids?
They won’t know unless they try.
If you would like to let Lt Governor Patrick know how much you appreciate his respect for our hard earned tax dollars, you may contact his comment line at 512-463-5342 or email: LTGConstituent.Affairs@ltgov.state.tx.us
If you would like to let Superintendent Colbert know what you think of his spending habits with public funds, you may contact him at 713-696-0715 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org