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Political Report

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The Legislative Report
The Gazette Staff
It appears that $3.1 billion from the $9.4 billion rainy day fund may be used to plug a hole in the current budget. Governor Perry has given his approval and approval from the Texas House and Senate is pending. However, Perry made it clear that the rainy day funds will not be used to help cover a looming deficit in the proposed 2012-2013 budget. Tax increases have also been ruled out, so that means cuts to almost all programs. Likely this will have to include Medicaid and education.
While teachers are worried about layoffs, the governor has said that the state won't be doing any layoffs and that those decisions will be made at the local level.
The Texas Education Agency has stated that it has had only a minor increase in the number of administrators school districts have hired over the past several years. The TEA says in 2000 48.7 percent of school employees across the state were non-teachers and in 2010, that number was just 49.5 percent.
However, a recent editorial published by State Representative Erwin Cain presents a different story.
He said, "A disturbing trend has developed over the last several decades. Armies of support aides, administrators, and auxiliary staff have grown in our school districts." He adds that it is the nature of this bureaucracy to have the aim of self-preservation - the result being that fewer and fewer dollars are going to the classroom.
He notes that Texas has more public school employees than any other state, including California, despite having 1,000 fewer schools and 1.6 million less students than the Golden State. Cain goes on to say that in the 1970s, Texas had just two non-teachers for every five teachers. But since 2004, non-teachers have been hired at nearly three times the rate of in-classroom teachers.
He adds that, during a time of recession, the average Texas school superintendent earns six figures and a majority received raises last year. More than 70 Texas schools pay their superintendent upwards of $200,000, according to Rep. Cain.
He concludes that even a modest reduction in non-teachers to a 3 to 2 ratio with classroom teachers would net a $3 billion savings.
It's unclear if Democrats in the Texas Senate would support major cuts in health or education.
In political notes, Dan Neil bowed out of his four-month challenge of the Texas House District 48 election. His campaign had alleged possible voter fraud but a House committee did not find sufficient evidence, He lost by just a handful of votes to incumbent Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin.
However, he leaves with greater name recognition for any future campaign.
Finally, Governor Rick Perry will be featured on the cover of the conservative magazine, The National Review in the April 4th edition. The story will highlight the Governor's recent book, his fight on 10th amendment issues, his stand on not running for president and his frosty relationship with the Bush family.