During a speech last week, Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) “pledged to continue strengthening the jobs climate” in his state. His director of administration added later that “the governor has put a priority on bringing jobs to Texas.”
However, jobs teaching Texas’ children to compete in the 21st century evidently don’t count:
Gov. Rick Perry can’t quit talking about jobs. He used the word 19 times in his recent state of the state address and has made it a top spending priority.
But if Perry realizes his vision of a budget balanced through cuts alone, 100,000 teachers could lose their jobs. That’s about a third of the 333,000 teachers employed by Texas public schools.
“If you lay off 1,000 teachers you’re going to have some greater number of that jobs loss because, presumably, those teachers are not going to be spending money in those communities,” said Terry Clower, director of the Center for Economic Development and Research at the University of North Texas. “That’s going to flow through the economy.” Indeed, the Center on Public Policy Priorities has estimated that Texas’ proposed cuts to public education will result in the loss of more than 100,000 private sector jobs.
Making matters worse, just a few weeks ago, Perry was actually extolling the virtues of education as one of the “building blocks of the economy“:
As our economy continues to reflect advances in technology, our educational approaches must do the same with an increased emphasis on the science, technology, engineering and math skills that Texans need to compete for future jobs. These are the basic building blocks of an economy that has drawn new employers to our state and our calling is to fortify them.
Of course, Perry could accept money from a bill passed by Congress last year aimed at preserving teachers’ jobs: Texas’ share of that money comes to $830 million. However, Perry is standing firm in his conviction that he should be allowed to spend that money on whatever he wants, going so far as to sue the Department of Education over the bill’s requirement that Texas use its share of the funding to maintain education spending. Previously, Perry has accepted federal education spending, only to cut state education spending by the same amount and use the saved money to bolster Texas’ Rainy Day Fund.