As Texans reel from the disclosure that our state is facing a $27 billion budget shortfall — which threatens to have significant consequences for our children, their families, and our state for generations to come — Gov. Rick Perry and his allies are busy trying to distract folks from the real issues. They’re saying that Voter ID is the real emergency item the legislature has to deal with.
That’s just plain hogwash! Voter ID is not an emergency. The real emergency is the threat of $10 billion in cuts to public education and the ability of Texas to remain competitive, offer opportunity, reclaim lost jobs, and create new ones. Passing Voter ID won’t fix the budget. It won’t stop 100,000 teachers from being let go and it won’t prevent our elders from being kicked out of nursing homes.
Voter ID addresses only one kind of fraud – voter impersonation. This is a virtually non-existent problem, as Attorney General Greg Abbott demonstrated when he failed to prosecute even one case of voter impersonation after spending $1.4 million taxpayer dollars on a voter-fraud goose chase in 2006.
When he was sworn in last week, Gov. Rick Perry talked about Texas’ economic success compared to other states. What he didn’t mention is the fact that Texas’ budget situation is worse than New York’s and about as bad as California’s. He didn’t mention that Texas’ unemployment rate, although slightly below the national figure, has almost doubled in the last three years, from 4.2 percent at the end of 2007 to 8.2 percent last November.
Yes, Texas is facing an emergency. It’s just too bad some of our leaders don’t seem to understand what it is or that they could have helped to avoid it. We can do better, and we must.
Chair, Hays County Democratic Party