1:08 this year. Pretty good considering that I started the day with an iffy stomach and that a muscle in my groin tightened up just before I got to 2d Street. This was a good year just to finish. My goal for next year is to break into the next quartile for my age group.
Travis County Democratic Convention
This was easily the most energetic and well attended county convention that I have been to, chiefly due to all of the new people. When the Chris Elliot, the County Chair, asked the people who were attending for the first time to raise their hands, friends near the back of the room said it appeared that more than half of the folks there put up their hands. The award for political theater goes to a female Kuchinich delegate with blue hair who had linked bumper stickers into a sash. The delegates from my precinct graciously elected me as a delegate to the state convention in Houston.
Funding Public Education
With the primary elections past, discussion of school finance and the prospect of another special legislative session is thriving. The Governor has proposed further limiting the amount that appraised value may be raised each year. Each subsequent proposal from the Governor, though, seems further and further detached from reality. The Texas Municipal League has noted
that limiting increases in appraised value will also impact city taxes, which are currently one-third to half the rate of school taxes. School taxes are the issue, not taxes in general. People are concerned about their total tax burden, but it is school taxes that comprise the greatest portion of local taxes. Proposing further limits on increases of appraised value do nothing to address the core problem and would only place a further limit on local government authority, moving Texas closer to the disaster that Proposition 13 has wrecked on California.
The challenge and disfunction of the current system of school finance can be seen in Wimberley. The school district there is struggling to keep up with a growing population base. However, as a property wealthy district under the current “Robin Hood” system for equalizing school funding, Wimberley is having to send an increasing amount of local funds out of the district. The Robin Hood system was designed to relieve the state from the burden of providing the equitable funding required under the Texas Constitution. It is time now, though, for the state to step up and provide the funding. This will provide tax relief by reliving local school districts from the burden of having to raise funds both for their own districts as well as the funds required to equalized funding across the state.
10 vs. 25
Congratulations to Congressman Doggett on his win in the Congressional District 25 primary. Doggett will now face former Public Utility Commissioner Becky Klein in the general election. In District 10, the eight-member field in the Republican primary has been winnowed down to two for the April runoff election. The winner of the runoff will then take a seat in Congress as there is no Democratic challenger for the November general election.
Do you notice anything odd here? The Republicans are willing to post a candidate in the overwhelming Democratic District 25, but the Democrats are unwilling to field a candidate in the nominally Republican-leaning District 10, even though it is a new district. As I predicted
, the Republican candidates have spent nearly $3 million so far in an east-west tug-of-war between Harris and Travis counties for control of the district. The winner of the Republican primary will then have two years to consolidate their position in the district before running as an incumbent. The Democrats have got to be willing to field candidates and to challenge the Republicans even in difficult races if the Democrats are ever going to reverse their decline. Democratic leadership in U.S. District 10 would have been valuable for supporting candidates in the 2006 statewide elections, but the Democrats weren’t even able to field a candidate.