“But Semitough” you say. “Doesn’t school start much earlier down there deep-in-the-heart’o?” Not any more. The Texas Legislature, in their infinite wisdom has decided that kids starting school in early August is a bad thing. Bad for the economy that is.
Conventional wisdom has had it that during August, being that it’s the hottest most ozone-alertful month of the year, the best place for kids is in an air conditioned schoolhouse learning the 3 R’s.
Further, many of the formerly Independent school districts felt that from a curriculum standpoint an early start was beneficial since they could get a full semester of teaching done and give finals BEFORE the holiday-winter-chrismahanakwanzaka break.
Enter the Lege. The same august body that can’t figure out a way to fund schools adequately, build roads without toll booths to pay for them, or provide medical assistance to the state’s most needy – now has a better idea. Start school later giving parents more summer spending opportunities.
Sweet. Once again revenue is raised without the Lege having to make a difficult decision to actually raise taxes. You see the Legemaniacs are very proud of the fact that Texas has no personal or corporate income tax. Not having these taxes means that Texas is “Bidness Friendly”. What they don’t mention is that they depend almost exclusively on sales tax and property tax to fund state activities and they have to split the property tax with cities, counties, school districts, hospital districts, community college districts, water & sewer districts and all manner of other little greedy hands that are actually paying for what their constituents need.
Problem is, the number one employer in Austin needs money to feed their hungry bureaucracy machine. Supplemented only by ill-gotten lottery revenue (they lied to get the lottery passed saying that all proceeds would go to education then like the cunning linguists they are worded the bill such that the cash would be deposited in the General Fund) they find themselves a little short at the end of the month
What to do? Raise taxes? Bite your tongue. Well let’s see, since our primary source of revenue is sales tax, let’s extend summer three weeks and see if people don’t spend some more.
And you know what? It worked. The Semitough family contributed with a mid-August trip that would heretofore have been pre-empted by the second full week of school. Reports from other parents here in the suburban jungle are similar. It’s late August, we’re tapped out – doing payday loans to buy school supplies and letting calls from unfamiliar numbers roll to voicemail.
But we’ll be smarter next year, assuming this radical incursion in to the business of local government stand another year. Of course it could end up like the Robin Hood scheme whereby money was taken from property “rich” school districts like ours and given to property “poor” school districts. A lot of Lege constituents got new football stadiums before the courts ruled that foolishness unconstitutional. Of course in true Lege fashion they held onto the money despite the high court ruling.
After all, they know best. Now if they just had the balls to do the right thing to fund their own spending jones or better yet, learn to live within their means like we do. I know a place that does payday loans if they need something to get by till the end of the month.