Latinos For Texas Blog

2007-May-17

Bill to combat non-existent Voter ID fraud appears to be dead in the Tx Senate

A report over at BOR links to an Austin-American Statesman article proclaiming Dewhurst has pronounced the Senates version of HB218 ‘all but dead.’

There is some great discussion in that thread about how this voter id bill really is NOT about ‘non-dilution of American’s votes, and keeping the vote safe’ and the like, but about a clever way to reduce Dem vote by about 3%, according to even staunch Republican Royal Masset in this comment, and elsewhere.

If the Lege wants to increase the vote, enact same-day registration, and county-wide polling places efforts (replacing my-precinct-only polling place). If the State’s technology is good enough to arrest someone in Amarillo for a warrant in Brownsville, if should be good enough to span a county on election day.

There is no voter ID fraud problem. Even according to Dewhurst, if you believe him, almost a few hundred non-citizens have voted in the last, according to him, 14 years! maybe as many as, in his words, 41 voted in two years in all of Bexar county. does he know how to do math, do ratios mean anything!! talk about a speck of a speck.
he then takes that and says ‘what about the ones we dont know about, what if it is “twenty-five thousand?”‘ WOW! what if its 25 ka-billion!?! What if EVERYONE stole EVERYTHING from HEB. We better enact a law to treat ALL shoppers as shoplifters, or at least the old, young, frequent movers, and poor ones.
how about focusing on problems we know exist — like education, healthcare, and infrastructure — and when thats all solved, you can take some time to work up a exciting David Blaine-style conjuring routine .

2006-Jul-27

Public Schools Outperform Private Schools

Filed under: — sabas @ 5:15 am

In a report that the Bush Administration would rather not have you read, a U.S. Education Department report found that public schools outperform private schools when students’ income and socio-economic status are taken into account.

This report which obliterates the White House myth that private schools are better than public schools is bad news for the Bush Administration. So much so, the Bush White House took extraordinary steps to bury the report by quietly releasing the news without comment or press conference late on a Friday afternoon, when most reporters have left the office for the weekend.

To read and hear the NPR report, click here>>
To read Private vs. Public School report, click here>>

2006-May-8

Texans Support Pre-K Education

Filed under: — kevin @ 4:08 pm

Via Quorum Report we see the following amazing poll findings:

UNITED WAYS SURVEY FINDS BROAD SUPPORT FOR PRE-K EDUCATION

Intent is to focus the issue while discussing school finance.

Nearly 69 percent of Texans think state lawmakers should provide pre-K programs and more than 75 percent of Texans would vote for a candidate who backed the creation of a statewide pre-K program, according to a survey of 1,200 registered voters released Monday by the United Ways of Texas.

The survey was conducted soon after the March primaries by Republican consultant Todd Smith, said Karen Johnson, president and chief executive officer of the United Ways of Texas. In all, 1,200 registered voters took part in the phone survey.

With lawmakers mired in talks on how to create a more stable funding source for the state’s public schools, Johnson said that she wanted to start a discussion on the importance of pre-K education.

Education is the key to success in life. Early childhood education, along with parental involvement, is the key to reducing gaps in performance among Anglo children and minority children. Texas will have a weaker future unless we get our act together and figure how to fund public education, let alone pre-K education. It’s what Texas voters want and it’s what the future of Texas depends on.

2006-May-5

Lionel Sosa’s new venture MATT.org networks together Americans and Mexicans

Another friendly reader (thanks Adam!) sent in a link to a MySA.com article about the efforts of Lionel Sosa, ‘one of Time magazine’s “25 Most Influential Hispanics”‘ to build an

online grass-roots think tank, it promises to forge new ideas and practical solutions to problems facing the United States and Mexico, immigration reform being the latest and most volatile.

He has some very interesting twist on the blogosphere ideas of getting Clickers into the streets, envisioning a complentary role for a new new site Mexicans & Americans Thinking Together at MATT.org:

“There’s been these marches on the street, but what happens afterward?” he said. “We hope they’ll join the Million Click March next and give us their best ideas, and we’ll serve them up to the leadership.”

Additionally, and not surprisingly since Sosa built the ‘largest Hispanic ad agency in the United States with clients such as Coca-Cola and Burger King and annual billings of more than $100 million,’ he aims to fund the non-profit side with a commercial venture side.

Its a good article, read it all at MySA.com and thanks again for the tip!

2006-Apr-18

Rep. Eddie Rodriguez has a proposal to fund Texas Schools

Filed under: — site admin @ 8:49 am

I am in favor of a state income tax, and i am in favor of leaders who lead, so, yep, i am glad rep. eddie rodriguez is my state rep.

frankly, i am a little surprised that more folks havent made the easy steps from “we’ve got a huge problem, and clearly the current system doesnt seem to be working, so lets discuss new ways.” all states have taxes and income tax is just one way among many for the people to ‘provide for the common _______’.

many states have income taxes and their world didnt end, and by many measures, they are doing better than Texas. why would we keep crippling our state? so we can say: “lots of things are crumbling, hope and opportunity among them, but at least we dont have a state income tax!”

as Gammage used to say ‘all the sacred cows should be on the table’ and then we decide whats best, as best we can, and not based on what we ve been doing, but what we COULD do.

and just in case Philip Martin of BOR is reading, i dont want to get called out for not ‘constructively criticizing’ even a favorite Rep., so: Rep. Rodriguez, please dont use ‘tax relief’ because, even tho the importance of framing and diction get overplayed, it is true that words matter, and progressives shouldnt fall into the trap of reinforcing hard conservative’s viewpoints that all taxes are a burden.

at least a ‘relief from bad taxes’ would be better, for me ; )

here is a little missive from a great state rep:

Rodriguez Calls for Long-Term School Finance Solution

Austin - In the opening hours of the latest special session of the Texas Legislature, State Representative Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) wasted no time in filing a bill (House Bill 20) to create a state Education Income Tax.

“This is the only proposal that resolves the State’s legal issues, provides new funding for education and promises a long standing resolution of our school finance crisis,” said Rodriguez.

Most of the opening day was devoted to a dialogue regarding the Governor’s Commission proposal. “Once the rubber hits the road, it becomes ever more obvious that this is a short term fix,” Rodriguez said. “Using the surplus might work for this year, but we have to make up that money in the very next year … and that usually means an increase in sales taxes.”

According to Rep. Rodriguez, “Appraisals increase, enrollments increase and the Governor’s plan actually allows future increases in the property tax rate. That’s not real property tax relief and it’s not a solution beyond this year.”

“House Bill 20, the Education Income Tax, sets up a simple and equalized source of revenue that will grow with the educational needs of our state. It will provide approximately $5 Billion in new funding for classrooms and teacher’s salaries, and at the same time it permanently cut the school property tax from $1.50 to zero,” said Rodriguez.

“That’s a real solution and real property tax relief.”

Eddie Rodriguez
State Representative, District 51
512-463-0674

2006-Apr-17

Look kids, there’s $8,000,000,000 under the couch!

Filed under: — kevin @ 3:51 pm

Fíjense, we have some spare change. What would you do if you were the special session?

I have little faith that Republicans are going to do right by Texas kids, but with these extra funds at least they will have no excuse come election time.

Cha-ching.

2006-Apr-7

Tell Rick Perry the priority is to Make Great Schools, and the method is ‘Fund Schools’ not ‘cut taxes’

Filed under: — site admin @ 1:53 pm

Last year, i went to Governor Good Hair Rick Perry’s website to, ya know, just check things out. I think what a person says of themselves is a much better indicator of the true priorities than what others say of that person. I use the story quite frequently that, at the time, the front page greeted visitors with a smiling photo of Rick’s Excellent Hair and a drop quote essentially saying “Finally, a School Finance Plan that lowers Taxes” or something close to that. My immediate response was and still is “Why do you think the goal of a school finance plan is to lower taxes rather than to create great schools which make great citizens, and oh yeah, great new college students, thoughtful business owners, and skilled employees?”

Even today at http://www.rickperry.org/education/ Rick’s staff writes:

Rick Perry believes that no child should face a future of diminished opportunity because they are trapped in a local public school that fails to provide a quality education. To give more children a chance…

Wait for it… what will it be??
Help out the schools that need help? Strengthen the public school system by strengthening public schools? Do whatever it takes to make Teaching worth it? (in a way other than as a public-service martyr.)

Nope. Perry’s plan “supports expanding successful Texas charter schools.” Which would be totally fine if he were a lobbyist for the PRIVATE SCHOOL INDUSTRY! but, someone needs to remind him, his job is to improve the PUBLIC SCHOOLS — FOR EVERYONE!

These people have a plan for sending that reminder:

Crashing the Texas Capitol Gates: Growing Electronic Petition Drive Demands More Funding For Our Schools

On April 6, supporters of neighborhood public schools announced that their electronic petition demanding billions more for Texas schools is attracting broad public support. “In just a few days, we have collected over 6,000 signatures and the numbers are growing rapidly every day. Our petition has hit a nerve with Texans: the public wants more money for our children’s teachers and schools and will not settle for a multi-billion tax swap,” according to Fred Lewis, one of the petition organizers. The petition is at www.fundtexasschools.org.

Petition supporters want the Legislature to raise funding for Texas teachers and schools to the national average. According to the latest study by the National Education Association, Texas spends $1479 less per student and $6799 less per teacher than the national average– even though Texas’ disproportionately disadvantaged student population is more costly to educate. “Texans want a first-rate education system that prepares all our children to be leaders in the global economy. We expect lawmakers to make sound investments for our state’s future, not play shell games for short-term political gains,” said Bee Moorhead of Texas Impact.

The groups participating in the electronic petition drive include the Baptist Christian Life Commission, Citizens Commission on Education Excellence, Center for Public Policy Priorities, Driving Democracy, Friends of Public Schools, National Council of Jewish Women-Texas State Public Affairs, People for the American Way, Texas AFL-CIO, Texas Education Crisis Coalition, Texas Impact, and Texas LULAC.

2005-Jul-27

Biblical Musings

Just finished my nightly Bible reading (I read two chapters a night) and I found some interesting stuff, especially in light of the Texas Lege fireworks over the GOP “plan” for education and taxes and the recent talk about immigration. Behold, the truth:

“You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. You shall not abuse any widow or orphan. If you do abuse them, when they cry out to me, I will surely heed their cry; my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall be become widows and your children orphans.

If you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor; you shall not exact interest from them….And if your neighbor cries out to me, I will listen, for I am compassionate.” (Exodus 22: 21-25, 27b.)

(For context, these codes of conduct come after the 10 Commandments, as Moses is laying down the law for the Israelites after they have escaped from captivity in Egypt.) So it looks like God hates racist immigration policies, those who would cut CPS and APS funding, as well as predatory lendors. The part about the widows and orphans sounds a lot like the Golden Rule. And that’s why they call God “the widow-maker.”

I think I’ll make this a regular column because there is so much good stuff in here. Buenas noches.

2005-Jul-15

Dear Bella

Filed under: — LaGirlFriday @ 7:45 am

A note from Rep. Mike Villarreal to his daughter.
Posted in the SA E-N.

Dear Bella,

On Monday, I voted against House Bill 3, the tax bill I’ve been working on for two years. Though you are only 18 months old, I want you to hear from your father what went wrong and how it’s going to affect your future.

This bill is like a spare tire, undersized and useful only for a short stretch of road. It will help the governor and lawmakers get beyond their next re-election. But in two years, our school finance system will fail again and we will be the worse for having driven on a spare tire so long.

This bill fails to make smart investments for your future. Today, the lifeblood of prosperous economies is creative people who are inventing new products and new ways of doing things better. We now live in a service-based economy where people who trade ideas hold the best jobs.

This bill does not spend one new cent on improving the schools you will attend. Instead of investing in young Texans like you, the Legislature chose to stay the course of the cheap-labor economy that recruits its few higher skilled workers from other states.

From Sunday service, we know Jesus told his followers, “What you do to the least of my people, you do on to me.” Lawmakers got this message backward by raising taxes on the working and middle class and reducing taxes on anyone who earns more than $100,000.

As if that were not bad enough, they also gave more to the wealthiest school districts, leaving less privileged schools behind.

This bill taxes some businesses and not others. Take your uncle who owns a plumbing supply store. Because he chartered his business as a corporation in Texas, he must pay the business tax. His biggest competitor, a partnership, does not have to pay the business tax. Is this fair? Now I expect to see more partnerships and less business tax revenue.

This bill does nothing to correct our state’s over-reliance on taxing capital-intensive companies. Today, these companies represent 25 percent of our economy, but pay 75 percent of all business taxes.

Attracting the best jobs will continue to be a challenge. I expect if you do not graduate from college, you will find few well-paying job opportunities.

Starving our government limits our chances to invest smartly. I expect more double digit increases in college tuition and a decline in our university rankings as we ask them to pay for themselves.

What all this means for you is that while your mom and I may have the means to pay for tutors, extra classes and all the things you may not get in school, that won’t necessarily be true for all your neighbors and friends.

I fear that our community and our great state of Texas will never reach its true potential.

P.S. I don’t expect you to understand what a capital-intensive company is until you are 2 years old.

——————————————————————————–
State Rep. Mike Villarreal in his fourth term serving District 123. He is vice chair of the Ways and Means Committee, which is charged with writing the tax plan.

2005-Jul-14

Poor Kids: Who speaks for them?

Filed under: — LaGirlFriday @ 8:18 am

This article in today’s Express-News discusses how the rate of low-income and LEP students is increasing, along with the cost to educate them. More than half of the state’s 4.4 million school kids are low-income. The article also includes a line we at LFT have been saying for months:

Unless current trends change, State Demographer Steve Murdock said, today’s Texas children will become the state’s first generation whose future will be less prosperous than their parents’.

Don’t look to our current Texas “leadership” for comfort. It is obvious that they don’t give a damn.

2005-Jun-27

State Rep Eddie Rodriguez school finance plan

Filed under: — site admin @ 7:48 am

Perhaps this is a political mistake to say this, because someone will take it out of context, but more than three times in one week (twice at DemFest and once at AustinMovingForward) i was in a room full of Progressive people who genuinely see the futility of property-tax dependence as the means to a quality education. that is, Progressives not seeking ways to tax-and-spend, but not afraid to recognize that common good can come from common spending in the right ways! people cheered loudly and passionately for a state income tax to replace the non-fair, non-working system we have now which has led Texas to, something like, 49th out of 50 in education funding.

As Stace of DosCentavos blog says it: Go Eddie Go!

State Representative Eddie Rodriguez (Austin) filed the first school finance bill to address the long term needs of Texas’ public schools.

HB 33 and HJR 13 completely abolishes the “Robin Hood” property tax (or “Maintenance and Operations tax). While the Governor’s plan offers a temporary reduction (from $1.50 to $1.20 per $100 dollars in valuation), Rodriguez’ plan drops the rate to zero. It is the only plan which abolishes the M & O. It also prohibits reinstatement of the tax under the Texas Constitution.

read more at Go Eddie Go!

2005-Apr-4

First Latino Student Gov’t Prez at UT-Austin

Filed under: — kevin @ 10:31 am

The Daily Texan has the scoop about the swearing-in ceremony at UT on Sunday:

“[…] Ochoa, a business honors senior, thanked family and friends for their support and gave words of encouragement to his assembly. He gave a unique twist to his speech by delivering it in both Spanish and English. He said he wanted to represent his culture and hopefully set a precedent for future SG presidents.

Ochoa said he is proud to be the first Latino to serve in the office of president. State Rep. Roberto Alonzo, D-Dallas, was elected to the office in 1978, but never served because the University abolished SG that year. Ochoa said he hoped to accomplish issues that Alonzo might have taken on himself.

Ochoa said he wanted to give students a voice in the amount of service fees, to work toward a four-year tuition plan and to make the University a more inclusive community. He encouraged debate among the assembly to find better solutions to problems and to remember SG legislation is only as powerful as the force students put behind it.

[…]

“It’s a new day at the University and a chance for new opportunity,” he said.

Ochoa was joined by more than 30 friends and family members, who drove in from his hometown of Edinburg, Texas. He was sworn into office by his district’s senator, Juan Hinojosa, D-Mission, who is also a co-author of the bill that would put a student on the board of regents.”

¡Felicidades, Señor Presidente! Buena suerte. I’m sure he will have a very bright future in Texas (and beyond???).

2005-Mar-15

HB3 Passed Despite Latino Opposition

Filed under: — kevin @ 12:18 pm

Check out the following press releases, compiled by Quorum Report :

The Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce has worked with Republicans and Democrats alike in the past. But on the House Republican leadership’s school finance legislation, TAMACC is firmly opposed. “As a small business owner who employ’s 15 people, I know how devastating additional taxes, such as the payroll tax, would be to my business as well as to all small businesses in Texas,” said TAMACC Chair Joe Lopez.

The Rio Grande Valley Teachers Association opposes House Bill 3 because, the group says, 52 percent of the tax shift would be directed to the sales tax. In a press release, RGVTA President Adrian Fernandez asks where the $11 billion is coming from to buy down property taxes. “Yep! You guessed it! Working families,” Fernandez said. He urges the South Texas delegation to “stand in defiance of the lack of leadership” in Austin.

The Texas League of United Latin American Citizens, the state’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, is “blasting” the Texas House for allowing House Bill 3 to pass. “The House of Representatives has dealt yet another huge setback to Texas,” LULAC State Director Roger Rocha said, in a press release. “It is another indication of the House leadership agenda to limit opportunities for working class Texans and those who are low socioeconomic status.”

With House Bill 3 including a new payroll tax, state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh (D-El Paso) has reissued an op-ed he wrote during last year’s special session on public school finance. “If a business tax is expanded to include employee compensation, then let’s call it what it is. It’s an income tax,” Shapleigh said. “While it can raise a significant amount of money, this expanded tax falls short of being fair because it only taxes the wage income of business professionals and is not even deductible on federal income taxes.”

Well, what a surprise. The Texas Lege has once again ignored the pleas of working folks and Latino advocates for a sustainable and equitable public education system and a fair, progressive revenue system.

2005-Mar-12

Wasn’t Grusendorf & Co. Like Totally Getting All the Credit for Crafting HB2?

Filed under: — LaGirlFriday @ 10:25 am

Well check it, the San Antonio Express-News is reporting that massive chunks of HB2 were actually ‘cut and pasted’ from a report by “The Hoover Institution, founded at Stanford University… a research center for advanced study on domestic public policy and international affairs. It’s widely described as a “conservative think tank.”

Perry, Shapiro and Grusendorf apporached the Institution’s Koret Force - made up of “Hoover fellows and includes several members who’ve written books about school reform, accountability and private-school vouchers” - in December of 2003. The results were published two months later and it “mirror[s] the language in House Bill 2, including rolling back local property tax rates, establishing a system of financial accountability for districts, freeing exemplary schools from state regulation and phasing in computer-assisted testing for state-standardized tests.”

It is not unusual for the Lege to refer to research experts, however motivations should be questioned when your elected officials choose to ignore “virtually every major education group in the state [who remain] opposed to House Bill 2.”

UPDATE: PinkDome.Com has a story on it here.

2005-Feb-26

Rep. Rodriguez talks about his Opportunity Tax

Filed under: — LaGirlFriday @ 8:26 pm

“Income tax is in many ways the easiest way to raise the kind of dollars, from the broadest base of population with the least amount of damage and the least amount of economic distortion. ”
-Political Analyst Harvey Kronberg

We wrote about Rep. Eddie Rodriguez’s income tax plan late last month and asked that you help him get a hearing by calling, e-mailing or visiting the Chair of the House Public Education Committee - Rep. Kent Grusendorf.

Watch the latest story on it at News8Austin (complete with Strayhorn, Kronberg and Rep. Rodriguez).

Then call the members of the House Ways & Means Committee and tell them to schedule a hearing. If you have doubts about the bill see Sen. Eliot Shapleigh’s presentation. It is an opportunity to fund schools equitably, reduce property taxes and still increase revenue. It beats the tax-shift shell game.

2005-Jan-13

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