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April 10, 2013     Hays Free Press
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April 10, 2013
 

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Hays Free Press April 10, 2013 THEY REALLY SAID THAT? "I wanted to show my kids that I was afraid just like they are sometimes afraid, but that being afraid shouM not keep you from setting goals and going after what you want." -Regina Butcher, Fuentes Elementary School principal Page 3A YOUNG- It never ceases to amaze- the breathtaking lack of propor- tionality some people have when they have it out for President Obama. Hear the screams about what it costs to protect him on a golf outing or Malia and Sasha when going anywhere. Too much. You've got that right. But my reading of history- yours may differ- is that this president isn't the first to have children, or to go mulligan-ing. Worse than this, consider the jet- engine decibels used to decry the few bad bets, among many excep- tional ones, this administration has made in a green initiative that Time ' magazine called"the most ambi- tiou~ energy policy in histo~" Those dollars were used to invest in renewables of many stripes, as well as a smart grid, smart meters, and more energy-efficient federal buildings. Every one of these initiatives does more toward "energy inde- pendence" and "energy security" than does drilling for oil or war- ring for it. Simply put and beyond debate: Energy savings are forever. Oil is not. Back to the point about propor- tionality, however: If every penny of the $90 billion devoted to clean energy in the stimulus bill went into a rat hole of corruption and featherbedding, with no trace of return, it would be a speck on the scale of scandal compared to the worst fiscal mis- take of the 21st century. That would be the venture launched 10 years ago on outra- geously false pretenses, and yet saluted by flag-waving tea party and Fox News types: the invasion of Iraq. A Harvard study finds that our involvement in Iraq and Mghani- stan combined will cost Americans $4 trillion to $6 trillion over time, with the biggest costs to come at home with care for 1.56 million discharged veterans. "The big, big cost comes 30 or 40 years out," Harvard's LindaBilmes told the Los Angeles Times. Profligate spending? The presi- dent who brought these people home struck the biggest blow imaginable on behalf of budget austerity. Note that in the 2008 election, Republican nominee John McCain, as with the neoconservatives in the White House, was set on extending this kind of duty as far into the fu- ture as calendars could be printed. Enough about dollars and cents, however. America lost 4,804 lives in Iraq, and to this point, 3,274 have died in Afghanistan. These, however, are people who enlisted to put their lives on the line. At the same time between 112,000 and 122,000 Iraqi civilians died in our deigning to "liberate" them (iraqbodycount. org). In Afghanistan, the civilian toll is more than 19,000 (costsofwar. org). The United States needs to end its combat involvement in Afghani- stan, pull the drones out of the sky and let people figure out what life is like without our war-making machines in their faces, stirring blood oaths. From the start of our war-mak- ing, every Iraqi or Afghan we killed made it harder for us to pull out, as it meant two Iraqis or Afghans resolved to fight back. At some point in the last decade a lot of Americans came to realize that we had put too much stock in the power of war. But that realiza- tion came most of a decade too late. The so-called reconstruction of the countries we shattered, the "na- tion building" so derided by George W. Bush when he first solicited your vote for president, has been as much of a disaster as the war itself. It has been a boon only to private contractors who were in it for themselves, not for the victims. War, though mankind's worst invention and investment, is always good for the war business, and that's been our business for too long. It's time, as Laura Nyro sang, to "study war no more." Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. jyoungcolumn@gmail.com cagtecartoons.com n April 5, the Texas House of Representatives approved Com- mittee Substitute Senate Bill 1, a proposed state budget of $194 billion for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. The Senate earlier approved a $195.5 billion budget, so the next step is for differences in the two budgets to be worked out in a House-Senate confer- ence committee. Both budgets spend less than what it would take to keep in stride with inflation and the state's increasing population. The House ver- sion adds, above base spending, $2.8 billion back into the elementary and secondary education budget, far less than the $5.4 billion the Legislature cut from education in 2011 to cope with a projected state revenue deficit. In a split vote to approve CSSB1, the House went along with a joint recom- mendation not to expand Medicaid spending made by Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, House Speaker Joe Straus and other leading Republi- cans on April 1. "Medicaid is a broken, unsustain- able federal program that could even- tually bankrupt Texas and all states, and it's nuts to expand it," Dewhurst said. "I've spoken with our Texas sena- tors about examining all the best ideas being considered nationwide on Med- icaid, but I'm not willing to consider going forward unless we can agree on a solution that is right for Texas." State Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Bren- ham, chair of the House Committee on Public Health, on April 1 said, "This debate will shape our nation's debt and financial future for generations. That's why I'm honored to play a part as we seek Texas solutions. When we reform the Medicaid system, Texas can lead the way to a brighter future here at home and across the country." Casting nays on final passage of CSSB 1 were state Reps. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas; Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth; CAPITAL Nicole Collier, D-Fort Worth; Joe Farias, D-San Antonio; Mary Gonza- lez, D-Clint; Ana Hernandez-Luna, D-Houston; Justin Rodriguez, D-San Antonio; David Simpson, R-Longview; Chris Turner, D-Arlington; and Arman- doWalle, D-Houston. ! Farias explained his vo~e saying, "We clearly had the means toLestore the cuts from two years ago but budget writers chose not to restore the full $5.4 billion. The budget also fails to fund Medicaid expansion, an opportu- nity that chambers of commerce, faith leaders and Texas hospitals all agree is necessary for our future." Turner, chair of the House Demo- cratic Caucus, said, "There is no greater investment in our future than doing everything we can to help the nearly five million school children of Texas realize their full God-given potential by providing the very best public education for each and every one of them. This budget falls well short of that basic values test, which is why I voted no." SENATE OKS CPRIT BILL Voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2007 establishing the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas and authorizing the state to issue $3 billion in bonds to fund groundbreaking cancer research and prevention programs and services in Texas. On April 3 the Texas Senate unani- mously approved SB 149, legislation to tighten oversight of the agency under fire for awarding tens of millions of dollars in grants to researchers with ties to agency officials. lane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee said the legisla- tion "establishes an ironclad system of checks and balances that will make it impossible for the agency to run without 100 percent transparency and accountability." An example of what the bill does is it prohibits individuals or entities that make donations to CPRIT or the CPRIT Foundation from receiving grants. The bill has moved to the Texas House for consideration. Listed as coauthors of SB 149 are Sens. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler; Charles Schwertner, R-Bryan; and Judith Zaf- firini, D-Laredo. LEASES HELP SCHOOL FUND Oil and gas exploration on state lands earned Texas schools more than $9.2 million on April 2 at the quarterly Permanent School Fund lease sale, the General Land Office reported last week. Private oil companies competitively bid more than $11.5 million to explore for oil and gas on land owned by the state, Land Commissioner Jerry Pat- terson reported. Twelve leases were awarded for tracts of submerged state land in the Gulf of Mexico, showing renewed interest in an area that has seen dimin- ishing activity since the Macondo well blowout three years ago, Patterson added. Ed Sterling works for the Texas Press Association and follows the Legislature for the association. edsterling@texaspress.com LETTERS TO EDITOR DO WE NEED CHOICE? In the debate over school choice, school employees and school board members have forcefully argued vouch- ers divert money from public schools. The Texas House of Representatives overwhelmingly agreed with them. When I was on the Hays School Board, serving in a dual capacity as elected Region XIII Director on the Texas As- sociation of School Boards represent- ing 59 area districts, I also made this argument. But, HCISD had in-district school choice then. After I got offthe Board, the district eliminated in-district school choice, unless you work for the district. Everybody likes choice. We need to reinstate the in district school choice open enrollment policy for all HCISD students. We already have magnet schools and two full immersion Span- ish instruction at two elementary schools. Why not go further? If we are serious about involving parents more, let them choose the school they believe would benefit their child the most. This is what teachers do for their own kids. Their kids are not always in the school where they teach. Far from it. Districts have no financial incentive to do this of course but if we can bus students for free swimming lessons at the BudaY, we can surely find a way to get them to the school of their choice. What's more important? The data suggests academic decline began with elimination of Spanish instruction for all students in elemen- tary school, more layers of program area administrators resulting in more substitutes in the classroom as teachers are jerked out for training, paying mil- lions to our most experienced teachers to retire, the district's assumption of de- livering free social and medical benefits resulting in a rapid change in district demographics as we offer more than other area districts and the cancela- tion of the in-district open enrollment policy. The challenge we have is to help the truly needy without creating life long entitlement dependency on big government. Nobody checks eligibility for reduced and free lunch because it is tied to federal dollars. A vibrant district is one with socio- economic diversity and school choice. We're losing the middle class to stron- ger districts. Does anybody care? Bryce Bales Manchaca IN NEED OF HAYS COUNTY STORIES The day has come. Water marketers are set to grab water underlying Bastrop and Lee counties, just like they're doing in"growth corridor" counties near IH -35. The difference is that our groundwater district is the best in the state. Their last stand is at a meeting of the Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District, 6 p.m. April 17 at Giddings City Hall. We are writing to invite Hays County residents to come and tell them your story. Lee County, a vulnerable rural county will be adversely affected. LPGCD is the best district in the state. But can we expect them to stand up to water profiteers who will surely sue LPGCD using the loopholes our state legislators left in the water law they passed in 20117 Citizens from affected counties - Hays, Travis, Williamson and Bexar, who will receive these water exports - must converge in Giddings. If you're serious about conservation and private property rights, be there. If the Lost Pines GCD stands tall, we can promise you at least one thing. It will be game on - especially with the legislature in session. Folks, be ready! It's not too late, but it will soon be. Linda Curtis Bastrop Guidelines for Letters to the Editor We welcome locally written letters to the editor on timely topics of community interest. We ask that you keep them to about 350 words in length and that you not indulge in personal attacks on private individuals. Letters may be edited for brevity and clarity. All letters should be signed by the author and include a daytime phone number where the author can be contacted for verification. Letter writers are limited to one letter per month. Letters can be emailed to csb@haysfreepress.com COMMENTS FROM THE WEBSITE It's unfair, we all live in one city and yet some developments are paying so much more for water. I understand rate increases but there has to be some common sense to them, when increasing the rates as much as these you are putting a burden on those affected. -Jane Passno on "County supports bills to move private water oversight" What the heck is wrong with you people? Can't you just be glad that a criminal was caught instead of turning this into a political issue? -CaraMosier on "Kyle rape suspect arrested in Austin" Seeking Federal Funds from a Federal Government that has no money, is worse than having a crappy Main Street. There is no free money. -Craig Young on "Buda eligible for Main Street program?" Why did the city install the LED sign on the ground, where you cannot sea it if cars are parked on Center St. ? Just a little thought would have suggested it be raised to a point where it could be seen by passersby, Come on, city officials, think before you spend our hard earned tax dollars. That forly thousand dollars is essentially wasted. - Jim Brewington on "Lighting up: Citues rush to get new signs installed" MANAGEMENT BARTON PUBLICATIONS, INC. Publisher Cyndy Slovak-Barton NEWSROOM Editor Cyndy Slovak-Barton csb@haysfreepress.com Sports Reporter Moses Lees III Features & Education Editor Kim Hilsenbeck kim@haysfreepress.com Staff Reporter Andy SeviLla Community Columnists Sandra Grizzle Pauline Tom Columnists Bartee Halle Clint Younts Will Durst John Young Proofreaders Jane Kirkham OFFICE MANAGER Connie Brewer business@haysfreepress.com ADVERTISING Tracy Mack tracy@haysfreepress.com Dioni Gomez ads@haysfreepress.com CIRCULATION/CLASSIFIEDS Suzanne Hallam paper@haysfreepress.com PRODUCTION Production Mgr. David White Assistant Designer Melinda Heft Distribution Pete Sizemore Contact Us: news@haysfreepress.com business@haysfreepress.com FAX: 512-268-0262 BUDA 512-295-9760 KYLE 512-268-7862 METRO AUSTIN 512-262-6397 www.haysfreepress.com 113 W. Center Street Kyle, Texas 78640