Scott Burns has an excellent column in Sunday's Dallas Morning News on the ticking time bomb of the unfunded liabilities of Medicare and the Social Security trust fund. As Burns notes, the Social Security trust fund will run out of money in 2040. The unfunded liability situation with respect to Medicare is much worse. The business columnist cites the 2006 trustees reports which "say the unfunded liabilities of Social Security increased by $600 billion. Medicare's unfunded liabilities ballooned a stunning $2.4 billion." Those increases reflect the figures for just a one year period.
Unfortunately, our Washington politicians all too often make decisions based on what will help them win the next election as opposed to what's in the long term interests of our nation. Clearly, these U.S. government debt obligations are unsustainable. What are we going to go about it?
With 42 of 45 precincts reporting, Carla Ranger is leading a seven-way race for the District 6 seat on the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees. Ranger was endorsed by the Dallas Morning News and may have benefited from the endorsement in an election race that will probably have less than 2,000 total votes cast.
Ranger currently has 28.84 percent of the vote. The candidates with the nearest vote totals are teacher Carol Arnold and Elite News publisher Jordan Blair, each with 21.47 percent of the vote.
Election returns from the Dallas County Elections Administration are showing that former Minyard Food Stores CEO Sonny Williams has won the District 1 seat for the Board of Trustees of the Dallas County Community College District with 88.29 percent of the votes counted. Williams had a total of 2,598 votes.
Former Dallas City Councilman Chris Luna came in second with 31.83 percent of the vote and conservative professor Darrell Williams had 9.25 percent of the vote as of 8:46 PM.
Who will pick up the tab for the anticipated increase in security at the border? At the present time, the specific details of the President’s speech on Monday remain uncertain and defense department officials do not have estimates on the cost of deploying as many as 10,000 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. According to Foxnews.com, states want the federal government to pick up a significant portion of the costs for the increased security. Interestingly, at least one border-state governor has said that he has misgivings about using National Guard troops at the border. While California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger did not say anything about the potential costs of deploying troops to the border, his comments were made at a news conference on the California state budget.
Last month, Time conducted a survey showing that 62 percent of Americans support militarizing the border, with 35 percent opposed. Another 75 percent said that illegal immigrants should be denied government supplied health care and food stamps and 58 percent of Republicans favored deporting all illegal immigrants (45 percent of Democrats agreed).
The Houston Chronicle reports that acting Representative Cheri Isett (R-Lubbock), who is filling in for her husband Carl Isett, gave an emotional speech to legislators about certain provisions of House Bill 1 on Friday. Isett criticized a part of the bill that reduces the number of electives that high school students can take by increasing the number of required math and science courses. Isett claimed that this would limit the time for students gifted in the arts to use electives as an opportunity to “blossom in (their) chosen art” .
The capital bond program the city manager's office recommends totals $1.28 billion.
"That's a lot of money, but then our capital needs are huge," City Chief Financial Officer David Cook told DallasBlog on Friday afternoon.
The program includes funding for most of projects that have been the talk at council meetings and town halls. Street improvements would get nearly a third of the money, and then park improvements with nearly 25 percent, flood control, flood control with 25 percent, with the rest spread among the southern sector inland port trade hub, the Cotton Bowl, Fair Park, public safety projects, and a good portion for the proposed decking and greening of Woodall Rogers.
Of note, there's no discretionary funds in the bond package.
The street funding alone would reportedly be a big help, bringing Dallas roads up to an 80 percent satisfactory level.
The council will back and forth the list between now and August, when they will vote on whether it goes on the November ballot.
The Senate today passed HB 5, the tobacco tax bill after removing two Senate amendments that the House disagreed with. The Senate stripped Sen. Frank Madla's (D-San Antonio) amendment that would have phased in the tobacco tax over two years. The Senate also removed Sen. Jane Nelson's amendment that would have dedicated five cents of the increase to smoking cessation programs run by the Texas Cancer Council. The vote was 14-13.
The story involves good-guy Avery Johnson, leader of a Mavs team in the middle of a fun title run. And some uplifting tales from Louisianans displaced by Hurricane Katrina. And a neat trick pulled off by your Dallas Morning News -- a trick the likes of which nobody taught us in Journalism class. Mike Fisher tells the story in the 'School of Fish'':
The Senate today adopted the HB 2 conference committee report, 18-9. HB 2 does dedicate some money to education. Under the compromise reached between the two chambers, all the money from HBs 3, 4, and 5 are dedicated to property tax relief until the school tax rate reaches $1.00 per $100 of valuation. Below $1, two-thirds of the taxes are dedicated to property tax relief and one-third is dedicated to education. (The senate wanted to dedicate all to education after the rate of 75 cents was reached.)
The House has concurred in Senate amendments to HB 1. The members can go home at the end of this special session. The final vote was 136-8. (The no votes were Lon Burnam, Garnet Coleman, Jessica Farrar, Rick Noreiga, Rene Oliveira, Eddie Rodriguez, Marc Veasey, and Mike Villarreal.) The bill has to be signed in the presence of both chambers and then goes to the governor. The only part of the Perry-Sharp tax proposal that has not finally passed is HB 5, the tobacco tax increase.