WASHINGTON, August 16, 2011 - This weekend, current Texas governor Rick Perry decided to throw his hat into the already crowded Republican presidential race for 2012. Supporters say Perry could dethrone current Republican front-runner Mitt Romney. But others bemoan what America would look like if the governor, who at one time wanted his state to secede from the United States, wins the election.
At the same time Perry announced his candidacy, the collective hearts of many educators sank: Perry has also seriously reduced education funding in his state. As a result of the cuts, Texas finds itself at the bottom of several lists regarding education.
In 2006, Perry convinced the state legislature to make school districts cut local school taxes, promising that money would be recouped by a state business tax. The revenues from that tax never materialized, and the schools were left with a $5 billion shortfall. This January the governor faced heat for cutting that $5 billion out of education funding.
Perry’s state has a reputation for creating jobs. Texas created nearly 300,000 of the 719,000 jobs created in 2009. However, most of those jobs were minimum-wage jobs with no benefits. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that nearly 10% of Texans work at or below the minimum wage, tied for the worst in the nation with Mississippi. Meanwhile, fewer than 2% of Californians work at or below the minimum wage.
A popular blog recently posted a list of Texas’s standings against all 50 states on a variety of issues (1st means highest ranking, 50th means lowest ranking) and unfortunately, much of it doesn’t bode too well for families with children. Judge for yourself:
• State Aid Per Pupil in Average Daily Attendance – 47th
• Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) Scores – 45th
• % of Population 25 and Older with High School Diploma – 50th
• High School Graduation Rate – 43rd
• Percent of Uninsured Children – 1st
• Percent of Children Living in Poverty – 4th
• Percent of Population Uninsured – 1st
• Percent of Low Income Population Covered by Medicaid – 49th
• Percent of Population with Employer-Based Health Insurance – 48th
• Total Health Expenditures as % of the Gross State Product – 43rd
• Per Capita State Spending on Medicaid – 49th
• Health Care Expenditures per Capita – 44th
• Physicians per Capita – 42nd
• Registered Nurses per Capita – 44th
• Average Monthly Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) Benefits per Person – 47th
• Teenage Birth Rate – 7th
• Births to Unmarried Mothers – 17th
• Percent of Women with Pre-Term Birth – 9th
• Percent of Pregnant Women Receiving Prenatal Care in First Trimester – 50th
Political Satirical Blogger, Me Myself Per se stated it best:
“As the long-time governor of a large, complex state, Perry has an established record. If you want the U.S. to look more like Texas - with its low taxes, high employment, low wages, & deep education cuts - vote for him. If you don’t, vote for someone else.
The choice is clear.”
Read more Politics of Raising Children in The Communities at the Washington Times. Follow Jeneba Ghatt at @JenebaSpeaks. Her work can also be read at JenebaSpeaks and Politic365. She also co-hosts a Blog Talk Radio show called Right of Black which tackles current events and politics from a perspective not often seen in the mainstream media.
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