The State of Texas: May 15, 2014
Headline of the Day
‘It’s The End Of The World As We Know It, But Health Care’s Fine’
Photo of the Day
We all know how shocking it is to head into the bathroom with true grit and determination, only to be stopped dead in the tracks by some occupied fool who forgot to lock the door. Now imagine that occupant is a giant snake:
Shovel Ready, Y’all — It’s second verse, same as the first as President Obama begins the winter of his tenure the same way he began, namely politicking with highway facelifts. Wendesday, Obama “tried to turn up the election-year heat on Republicans by demanding fast-track congressional action to finance multi-year bridge and highway projects that are jeopardized by the looming insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund,” according to the Houston Chronicle. Although it’s a national issue, this is no small matter for Texas. The state “has a great deal at stake, receiving about $3.2 billion a year from the federal government for transportation projects. That amounts to roughly 35 percent of the state’s annual spending on projects. Independent as Texas is there is also a “proposed amendment to the Texas Constitution on the ballot in November would shift about $1.4 billion from the state’s so-called rainy day fund to the State Highway Fund to help cover part of the estimated $5 billion in additional spending needed to cover unfunded projects.” And maybe, one day, Houston drivers won’t be so dern angry.
Motor City, Texas — Speaking of roads … Lest you thought that new Tesla car factory was just a some kind of cheap paint job, the click-and-clack around the garage is that Texas is jumping into the fast lane of the automotive industry. Not only is there the $5 billion “gigafactory” currently on the production line and a new Toyota headquarters base going up in Plano, but one Texas economist quoted by the Forth Worth Business Press said, “We are starting to reach the point where Texas is a center for the automotive industry.” And analysts say “the Plano relocation may bring $7.2 billion of economic activity over 10 years,” according to Bloomberg News. “The figure includes $4.2 billion from payroll, along with direct and indirect spending, and sales and property tax revenue.”
Civil Disobedience Chic — According to the Dallas Morning News, “[m]ore than 150 students at Duncanville High School were suspended Wednesday for dress code violations.” As if this weren’t crazy enough, this isn’t first time Duncanville High’s dress policies have made the news. “The district gained national attention a decade ago when more than 700 high school students were suspended in a matter of months at the beginning of the 2003-04 school year. ” The kids can be kicked out for sagging pants, untucked shirts and a number of other wild disruptions to learning. School officials refused to comment, but one student said she was suspended for having neither her ID nor a belt. Apart from the irony that the suspensions cause more disturbances than the clothing, there’s also another, more philosophically pressing issue. The policy states that the “district believes school is a place of business and the dress and grooming of a student should reflect the serious intent of a workplace as well as promote a business-like atmosphere.” Although some whippersnappers may dress like they’re at a skate park, the district might do well to remember that kids aren’t meant to dress like a Fortune 500 executive.
Alternative Route — It’s an irony so thick, the Austin American Statesman turned it into an entire, and highly entertaining, story. At issue is Governor Rick Perry’s appearance before a grand jury investigating whether he did anything unethical in trying to pressure trouble Public Integrity Unit head Rosemary Lehmberg out of office. “In advance of Gov. Rick Perry’s likely appearance before a grand jury investigating possibly criminal charges against him, the Governor has asked about entering the courthouse through a back entrance, out of sight of the public and reporters,” reports the Statesman. Unfortunately, “the only way other than through public entrances to access the grand jury courtroom is through Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg’s office.” Lehmberg believes Perry should enter the court room the same way everybody else does. Perry, however, is not just “everybody.” As the Statesman explains, “images in the media of Perry arriving to testify in the matter would be a reminder that he’s facing potential legal trouble just as he’s largely repaired his national image following embarrassing stumbles during his 2012 presidential bid.”