Race to the bottom

Our Governor tells us that, if we want to compete, we need to keep taxes low. That, he assures us, is the only way that we’ll be able to attract new businesses, and keep the ones that we’ve still got. While our Republican leadership in Lansing has taken some steps in that direction, I question whether they have what it takes to really go head to head with states like Texas, where their elected officials have proven time and again, that they value tax cuts more than (non-embryonic) human life itself.

Michigan Republicans need to up their game. This isn’t the time for pussyfooting around. This is the time for bold, decisive action – the kind of action that would make Ayn Rand swoon.

Word is Republicans in the Texas House are calling for public education cuts of $4 billion, or nearly 6%. That’s almost double what we’re calling for here in Michigan… And, if the ballsyness of that move doesn’t impress you, consider the fact that Texas is also anticipating an additional 185,000 students over the next two years… I don’t know what that says to you, but what it says to me is that the Republicans of Texas are clearly more serious about their Republican ideals than we are. They’re coming right out and stomping on the neck of public education, like a Tea Party patriot at a Rand Paul rally.

And, it’s not like things in Texas schools are going so incredibly well to begin with. In spite off all the talk of a “Texas Miracle”, things are really bad. Or, at least that’s what those pesky old facts would have you believe. The following assessment comes from Republican matriarch Barbra Bush, of all people.

“Our schools are in crises: We rank 36th in the nation in high school graduation rates. An estimated 3.8 million Texans do not have a high school diploma. We rank 49th in verbal SAT scores, 47th in literacy and 46th in average math SAT scores. We rank 33rd in the nation on teacher salaries.”

And, this, in case I wasn’t clear above, is the situation now, before these new spending cuts go into effect.

But, they want to keep their taxes low, and they’re willing to pay the price that comes along with that.

The following clip comes from Salon.com:

…Once upon a time Texas prided itself on what it called the “Texas Miracle.” The state initially didn’t get hit as hard by the recession as other parts of the county, a fact that legislators claimed was due to its low-regulation, low-tax, business-friendly culture. During Rick Perry’s re-election campaign last year, the governor boasted that the state had “billions in surplus.” Less than two months later, however, the news of a gaping deficit made the miracle look a bit less wondrous, as Paul Krugman was quick to observe:

“But reality has now intruded, in the form of a deficit expected to run as high as $25 billion over the next two years.

And that reality has implications for the nation as a whole. For Texas is where the modern conservative theory of budgeting — the belief that you should never raise taxes under any circumstances, that you can always balance the budget by cutting wasteful spending — has been implemented most completely. If the theory can’t make it there, it can’t make it anywhere.”

So, the next time you hear Rick Snyder say that we need to keep our taxes low so that we can remain competitive, keep in mind that Texas is our competition. This is the competitor that we’re chasing. This is the race that we’re in.

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  1. John Galt
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    It’s ridiculous to me that we pay anything at all for education. I can home school kids for less than the $2 a day it costs to feed prisoners.

  2. Edward
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Vermont just passed single-payer health care. Are businesses fleeing? Why isn’t that a model that we’re working toward? Why does the dialogue have to be about tax cuts and deregulation? Why aren’t there other models to be considered?

  3. Posted May 31, 2011 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    I bet, without evidence, that a lot of businesses (and people) will be considering a move to Vermont.

  4. Meta
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    New Jersey Supreme Court Orders State To Restore $500 Million In Education Funding Stripped By Gov. Christie


  5. LaidOffTeacherPatti
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Kinda OT but I saw an article on the freep.com this morning asked if my district is worth saving…there is quite a bit of debate about it BUT I was happy to FINALLY see someone calling charter schools to the carpet for their a) tendency to cherry pick students and leave out “at risk” or “special ed” kids or anyone who is “hard to educate”, b) that they have no transparency in their spending of public dollars and c) that they have not been shown to be any better than a traditional public school (except they are of course better for the people making a profit off of them!!). I would add that they should also be called into account for d) kicking out those students who fall into the above mentioned categories the day after Count Day and e) for lying to some of the parents at our school to try to lure them to the charter school…seriously, out and lying saying that our school is going to be closed, is turning into a high school, etc.

    If folks can stand up against charter schools (pipe dream, granted) that might be the first step in getting back to the good education system that we once had in this country.

  6. Can't Buy Me Love
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Texas always ranks first in CEO’s list of best states for business even while it ranks #45 on the list of “best state to live in. ”

    (CEOs rank Michigan #45 on business; it’s 28th on livability.) Here’s CEO’s top five states followed by their ranking for livability.

    1 Texas (45)
    2 North Carolina (40)
    3 Florida (37)
    4 Tennessee (47)
    5 Georgia (38)

    What makes for a happy CEOs doesn’t do any good for anybody but CEOs. As your link to the Rand critique shows, CEOs do seem to live by the motto, “What’s good for me is right.” And we went and elected a CEO.

  7. Mr. X
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    A little while ago, we had a conversation here about a Michigan legislator who proposed that foster kids only be allowed to shop at secondhand stores. Why not propose that all of our legislators have their kids in public schools? If we can legislate one, why not the other?

  8. Posted May 31, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Because that would be “big government”

  9. LaidOffTeacherPatti
    Posted May 31, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Mr. X…cool idea! Or at least put public pressure on them and/or shame them when their kids are in private or for-profit charters….

  10. Meta
    Posted June 1, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Speaking of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie:

    Chris Christie (R-NJ), Governor of NJ, just took a State Helicopter to his son’s baseball game, where a limo carried him the 100 yards to the field. He then flew off with his wife. While he calls for savage cuts in medicaid to the poor.


  11. TaterSalad
    Posted June 3, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Where are the jobs Mr. President and V.P.? You promised, remember! We can not support either of you in 2012! Have a nice life!


  12. Posted June 3, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Do you mean the jobs the Republicans promised when the won the House? Did they even present jobs bill? If memory serves, after they got in, they focused on cutting taxes for the wealthy and cutting environmental regulation.

  13. Posted June 3, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Tater, like many, has no idea what the Congress is nor what they do.

  14. TaterSalad
    Posted June 7, 2011 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    We are getting the shaft/screwed by our government and universities. U of M is one of them. The Chinese students in droves are stealing our kids futures.


  15. Can't Buy Me Love
    Posted June 7, 2011 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Texas has found an innovative way to pay for public education … contract it to Turkey.

  16. Anisa Arbo
    Posted June 9, 2011 at 1:55 am | Permalink

    I’m planning an event in Saline called Race To The Bottom. It will be held on August 10. It’s a more family friendly answer to last summer’s Totally Anal Fist. I’d love to have your readers come and join us.

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