04 September 2011

Perry's Miracle

Reposted from jobsanger

There's been a lot of talk by the Republicans about the "miracle" Rick Perry has pulled off with the Texas economy. Of course the miracle they are talking about is the fact that Texas still gives corporations and the rich a free ride while putting the burden of taxes on the working and middle classes and the poor through one of the most regressive tax systems in the nation. In Texas the less money you make, the larger percentage of your income goes to paying taxes.

This refusal to make the rich and the corporations pay their fair share of state taxes resulted in a huge hole in the state budget for the next biennium -- about $27 billion dollars. Perry and his Republican cohorts still wouldn't tax the corporations (and left in place huge subsidies for the oil & gas industry, even though they are no longer needed and the industry is making record profits). No, what they did was to cut services for the hurting Texans who need those services.

Recent numbers show that unemployment is climbing in the Lone Star state -- from 8.2% in June to 8.4% in July (and the 8.2% figure was already higher than the unemployment rate in 25 other states). But Perry and the Republicans don't seem to feel that all those out-of-work Texans need the services of unemployment offices. It was recently announced that due to the cuts to the state budget, the Texas Workforce Commission will be closing numerous offices. Just here in the Panhandle at least 7 offices will be closed (in Hereford, Dumas, Borger, Tulia, Pampa, Childress, and Dalhart). In addition, 14 positions in the Amarillo office have been eliminated.

These offices provided a valuable function for the unemployed. Among other things they helped low-income workers afford childcare, provided job training, and helped the unemployed find businesses looking to hire workers. The Workforce claims it will still service those cities by traveling to them, but it is obvious that they have just made it much harder for citizens to access their services. And I expect this is not the only part of the state where services will be reduced, even though more Texans are needing those services.

Perry has bragged about being a job creator in Texas, but Texas now has more people out of work than before Perry became governor. And the few jobs being created are nothing to brag about. Texas leads the nation in both the number of and percentage of jobs that are at or below the minimum wage. That figure is currently about 9.5% of all the state's hourly jobs -- a figure that has doubled since Perry's first year in office (when it was 4.2%). According to the Labor Department, about 7.4% of men and 11.9% of women working in Texas make at or less than minimum wage.

The labor and economic conditions in Texas are far from "miraculous" -- unless you are already rich. The Texas economy is in trouble, and it doesn't look like it will improve anytime soon. Now Perry wants to perform this same "miracle" for the whole country. Don't let him!

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