My fellow Texans, I am coming to you with some very bad news. News that you likely expected but really did not want to hear. During the recent days my staff and I have been conducting a review of the state’s financial well-being and the situation of average Texans just like you. I am forced to deliver to you a very hard truth—our lawmakers, our parties and our leaders have been lying to us all. Their lies know no boundaries and their deception is worse than ever. Our lawmakers have been hiding behind fear tactics and rhetoric over national issues while Texas sits with a debt of $62.44 billion dollars. This is a large number and Democrats, and Republicans think it is a manageable amount. Well, the truth is that while it might be manageable—it is not practical. Just like you know sitting there in your homes and offices as you read this—you cannot spend more than you make. Well, the truth is that Governor Abbott, Texas Republicans and Democrats are doing exactly that. Have you ever wondered why Gov. Abbott spends so much time down at the border or why Democrats run to Washington? Well, here it is.
Right now, the state government has $4.2 million dollars earmarked to enhance the Public Utility Commission and other regulatory response related to oversight of ERCOT activities. But the reality is that number is far too small and delivers nothing in return for it except for a few more studies and recommendations. The truth is that another winter is upon us we are still being threatened by potential blackouts and death.
While 850,000 Texans face unemployment tonight, and millions more are living with the impacts of being underemployed and working jobs that pay far too little from being able to make ends meet, government leaders in Texas apportioned $139.2 million for law enforcement salary increases at the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission and for other state commissioned law enforcement personnel. The truth is that they were lobbied by law enforcement associations and activists to make this happen and they did it at your expense. While you are out there trying to figure out where your next meal is going to come from or how you are going to pay your next batch of bills, they were giving law enforcement raises. Even though we thank them for the job that they do, we cannot overspend on salaries while hundreds of thousands of Texans go hungry and drift further and further into poverty. I don’t know about you, but that is not what I call protecting and serving.
Our lawmakers are scared of you, and they are scared that you will find out the truth. Yes, there is a crisis down at the border. We must make sure that we protect it and defend it in the most humane way possible. But hiring more law enforcement to be used at the border and at the Capitol complex is not the answer. You heard me right…. they want to add more security at the Capitol in order to keep you in lockstep and quiet while they go about their dirty deeds unchecked. The state government is wanting to hire 100 new troopers along the border and 74 additional DPS troopers and staff to enhance the security throughout the Capitol complex and they expect us, the taxpayers to pay for it. I say this is little more than Governor Abbott using taxpayer money to play Presidential politics at our expense. Again, while you worry about how you will survive.
How about $34.1 million for a 3% pay increase for correctional officers at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, $57.6 million to combat human trafficking (a job that law enforcement should already be doing instead of chasing down petty criminals), or how about $34 million for reimbursements to counties for the retrofitting or purchase of new voting machines and an increase of $1.4 million for the training of county election officials?
Let me give you another truth: While this part might sound good, this will end up being just like has been in the past—money spent without actually delivering fully on the goods. Texas claims they will spend $30.0 million in General Revenue for new rural and urban community mental health beds and an increase of $19.5 million for the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium; and they say they will commit an additional $86.0 million in General Revenue for new state mental health hospital beds. Here is the truth, they have done this before and have never been able to fully deliver. In fact, the more THEY spend, the worse the problem gets. Now, that really does sound like the government, doesn’t it?
The new budget says that the state will spend an additional $123.5 million for rural hospitals. But let’s talk reality—those funds will never really be seen in places like Burnet, San Saba, Three Rivers, Cotulla, Poth, or Nixon. That money will never reach the most vulnerable in places like Ozona, Sheffield and Terlingua. Let’s face it, $125 million dollars does not go far enough in today’s dollars—especially in healthcare costs. Sadly enough, while most candidates for public office have net worth’s of 5 times that amount and war chests that could find many of these programs by themselves. Do you see the problem?
Where is all this money going to come from? Well, they say from sales tax and property tax and this tax and that tax. Come to think of it that is the only way that government can make money—taxes. Well, while all these programs might sound good and great, they are all just a waste if hundreds of thousands of Texans are going hungry, unhoused or are incarcerated for minor offenses. They are just a waste if we can’t take care of our own and really come up with an idea to fix this spending problem. That is why they keep talking about the border crisis, abortion and gerrymandering—neither of the parties want you to see the waste that they are throwing around.
Let me tell you how far a $125 million dollar investment goes into rural healthcare. 15 new MRI machines across the state that can diagnose a problem but not provide access to providers in an emergency who can fix it. It can provide about 200 new x-ray machines to rural hospitals to replace the decades old machines that are currently being used. 30 new CAT scan machines to be used for diagnostics—but not hire and retain the skilled staff to treat the patient during an emergency’s so-called “Golden Hour.” The truth is that while they are spending money, they are not spending it the right way. We need to cut some of the waste and really invest making life better for our rural communities.
You ask how far $125 million dollars will go in terms of rural healthcare. Let me give you another example. Most rural hospitals can deliver a baby, but the often prefer to send you to a bigger, more capable facility in case something goes wrong. Many rural hospitals simply no longer have the staffing or medical capabilities to properly care for a newborn. While yes, a small rural community hospital can, and often do deliver babies—they are not always ideal. Many mid-sized community hospitals and bigger city health centers are investing in birthing centers where parents and newborns can be properly cared for during those first few hours of precious life. But in places like Llano, Crocket, Chilicothe, Midlothian, and Ranger, those types of facilities can be 50 or more miles away.
To build a birthing center it costs about $100 per square foot. Proper equipment will cost around half a million dollars. Then figure in staffing—there is another big cost. All just to wait around while a baby is born. Well, obviously they would not invest in that but they could invest in bringing in the proper staff and having more equipment readily available to fill in on thise capacities. The government could encourage hospital districts to bring those services closer to the patients. The government could buy more ambulances and properly staff them. But why would they? They will spend $125 million dollars of your money on a few studies and to conduct some research to tell them what we already know—healthcare in rural areas is hit or miss at best and nobody in government has a solution. Well, that isn’t good enough. We must stop their lies in their tracks and do it this election cycle.
My fellow Texans the crisis is not at the border. No, it is in Austin and in the hearts of the lying and condescending souls we sent there to manage this thing we call government. While they have been hiding behind catastrophes—they have been selling us out over and over again, building a massive debt and giving us nothing in return except a bunch of hot air—and when the lights go out due to another massive power failure happens hot air is something we wish we had. But not this kind of hot air.