Zippidy Doo Da

I'm not stupid, I'm from Texas!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

State leaders can be so stimulating

By RICK CASEY Houston Chronicle

Great news! The political leadership of Texas has decided to call on the best minds in Texas and beyond to make sure that the massive infusion of federal stimulus dollars is spent to launch the state into the new 21st century economy.

Task forces from the private sector will work intensely with government leaders to try to use a good portion of the expected $16 billion to propel the state into national leadership in health care, renewable energy production and education.

It’s almost like when FDR called in Houston business genius Jesse Jones to help shape the Depression recovery plan.

In other words we will, as I hoped, be spending our children’s and grandchildren’s money to make their lives better.

If you believed a word of this, I’m afraid you are an April Fool.

If you go to, the federal Web site on the stimulus money, you can link to a map of the United States. Click on any state and it will take you to that state’s Web site.

But when you click on Texas you don’t even get the governor. You get a page from State Comptroller Susan Combs’ “Window on State Government” site. Because her job is to tell you not how the money should be spent but how it was spent, the headline is “Tracking the Texas Stimulus.”

The governor’s only concern seems to be that we not accept $500 million to enhance jobless benefits for laid-off workers. As far as we can tell he hasn’t spent a whole lot of time worrying his nicely covered head about the other 93 percent of the federal funds. (I asked his press office about whether he would be making any proposals. They seemed confused, assuming that federal “strings” dictated how all the money would be spent, which is not true.)

Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously voted out an unimaginative budget that uses federal stimulus money to replace general funds.

If the governor is worried that the state will suffer pain when the $500 in federal unemployment benefits ends, what about the impact when we have to replace $6 billion in general revenue money or cut budgets?

This is not a happy prospect. We have a bureaucratic culture in Texas where the only major original idea in decades is to build statewide toll roads to be run by a Spanish company.

No, that’s not April Fools


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