The State of Texas: April 7, 2016
Police force pops up again in Texas schools, John Cornyn still won’t endorse Ted Cruz, and nursing homes across the state face a staffing crisis.
Quote of the Day
“They died first, so I guess they made a mistake,”
—Elizabeth Sullivan to the Dallas Morning News, regarding countless doctors who have told her to cut back on her three-drinks-per-day Dr. Pepper diet. Despite the high sugar intake, Sullivan is still alive and kicking. The 105-year old threw out the first pitch of the Texas Rangers game on Wednesday.
Brutal Schooling—A disturbing video surfaced last week showing a police officer forcefully body slamming a twelve-year-old girl onto a concrete floor at a San Antonio middle school. According to the San Antonio Express-News, the video has prompted investigations by San Antonio Independent School District police and administration officials. In the video, the young girl is momentarily motionless after being thrown to the floor, and crying can be heard before she is led away in handcuffs. The officer, Joshua Kehm, was placed on paid leave. This is just the most recent instance of police force creeping into Texas classrooms: in October, a police officer at Round Rock High School put a skinny, bespectacled fourteen-year-old in a chokehold before driving him into the floor. Two years earlier, Round Rock police used a stun gun on a sixteen-year-old after a fight broke out in a school cafeteria. As Jezebel notes, the San Antonio body slamming is “eerily similar to an October 2015 incident in which a South Carolina school officer was seen slamming a female student to the ground and dragging her across the floor.” Video of that incident caused national public outrage and sparked an FBI investigation.
Friends Without Benefits— U.S. Sen. John Cornyn hasn’t endorsed fellow Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, and it doesn’t look like he will unless Cruz somehow lands the GOP nomination. According to the Texas Tribune, Cornyn doubled down yesterday on his pledge not to offer loyalty to any candidate before the nominee is picked.”My position is, I just don’t think it’s appropriate for a United States senator to be picking the nominee,” Cornyn said on a conference call with reporters, according to the Tribune. Cornyn’s endorsement history appears to back that up—he didn’t endorse John McCain or Mitt Romney until both were clear Republican frontrunners—but it’s also been pretty well-established that Cornyn doesn’t get warm-and-fuzzy butterflies when he imagines Cruz sitting in the Oval Office. Of course, Cruz might not want an endorsement from any Republican establishment politicians anyway—at least, that’s what Senate Republican Conference Chair John Thune (from South Dakota) told the Daily Caller. Also worth noting: Cornyn told the Tribune that he would support Donald Trump if he eventually wins the GOP nomination.
Nursing Wounds—Nursing home nurses aren’t earning enough to keep doing what they do, prompting many to pursue other, more profitable opportunities–like working the drive-thru at Wendy’s. This isn’t good, considering the state’s elderly population will likely boom in the coming years. According to the Dallas Morning News, the proportion of caregivers to patients in nursing homes is expected to be cut in half by the end of the next decade. So what gives? Funding. Apparently, nursing homes are too strapped for cash to pay their most essential employees. Writes the Morning News: “Texas has one of the lowest Medicaid reimbursement rates in the nation, which means nursing homes often spend more caring for residents than they are reimbursed. About 85 percent of Texans in nursing homes depend on Medicaid or Medicare. Texas Health Care Association President Kevin Warren said the shortfall between what the state reimburses nursing homes and what nursing homes spend is more than $300 million. As a result, he said, nurses in these long-term care facilities often have poor salaries.” So, what’s that look like? Well, based on one study the Morning News cited, it looks a lot like a revolving door: the turnover rate for nurses in the states’s nursing homes is a whopping 94 percent.