At this site, we have written about the state’s structural deficit in funding public education (A Budgetary Frankenstein (January 30, 2011) and Structural Deficit: Planned Pain (February 17, 2011)). The good news is that an elected state official is talking about it. The bad news is that the solution may be more planned pain.
What is a structural deficit? The Texas Tribune (Tripedia: 2011 Budget Shortfall) describes it this way: “Some budget watchers say lawmakers created a ‘structural’ deficit’ in 2005, when lawmakers cut school property taxes by one-third and expanded the business tax to make up the difference. But the business tax brings in billions less each year than the property tax did … The structure of the revenue system creates deficits each year.”
Abby Rapoport (The Structural Deficit Theme) puts it this way, “For those who don’t speak budget-nerd, the term refers to a budget that can’t add up – where income can’t cover costs.”
Who is the elected official talking about the structural deficit? It is State Senator Steve Ogden. Senator Ogden, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, was noted in a quote in a Longview News-Journal opinion piece as “chiding the Legislature for not dealing with the ‘structural deficit:’ the margins tax raises far less money than the property-tax cuts that were passed at the same time, costing the state billions of dollars.”
The good news is that it is comforting to have the problem recognized at its source: The Texas State Legislature.
The bad news is that if the Legislature addresses Planned Pain I in the next Legislative Session, it may replace it with Planned Pain II – more ouch for Texas’ Public Schools.
Planned Pain II doesn’t have to be. Now is the time to begin informed conversations about this subject.