Articles like this one had regaled just how fortunate Texas had been in the Great Recession so far.
But it’s a new year, and 2011 — and 2012 and 2013 — do not bode well for the Lonestar State, as seen in this article about the state’s budget shortfall:
Texas is facing a $15 billion revenue shortfall, and few corners of state government were spared in the draft proposal for the next two years. The Texas Constitution requires a balanced budget, and Republican leaders have vowed not to raise taxes.
As a community college faculty member, I’m on the inside, seeing how the shortfall will affect colleges throughout the state. For my college. we’ll have to give a portion of state funding BACK for this year and next. Any new funding after 2013 will be so miniscule that rumors of draconian measures (massive support staff layoffs, decrease in welfare and benefits, increasing class sizes and even class loads without additional pay) have exploded in the hallways, in the workrooms, and in private messages among co-workers.
As a de facto single mother (possibly facing divorce this year) with a mortgage balance of $40K, a student loan balance TWICE that amount, and a sister to assist financially for the next four years, all that concerns me is 1) will my salary take care of the bills, including my debt responsibility, 2) will my son and I still have medical insurance, and 3) will I still have a job after the Great Cut-opalypse bridges my college’s budget gap?
So far, the answer is “Yes” to all three — SO FAR. But with everything being so uncertain — not only on the local level with my place of employment but also on the state level (and let’s not even go there with the federal level), I am loathe to spend ANYTHING that isn’t bare bones essentials and managing the bills and debt.
What with the state spending cuts proposed, local school districts will be hit so hard that my tentative idea of putting the little guy in a nearby Catholic school (instead of the local public elementary school) cemented into rock-hard resolve. I envision a public elementary school classroom of 30-35 students in it, with one underpaid and overstressed teacher trying to manage the bunch. If “teaching to the test” is bad now, I can only imagine what such a classroom will be like once the little guy starts kindergarten in 2013. And support systems that help students excel, like public pre-K, Gifted and Talented, mentoring, tutoring, Advance Placement, and whatnot?
That’s another reason for me to hold on to any discretionary dollars that I have and SAVE SAVE SAVE instead of paying down my debts in order to make them go away ASAP. (And I’m so used to paying down debts that NOT doing so actually makes me feel restless and twitchy.)
All in all, Texas is no exception to the Great Recession that officially began in late 2007. And even though experts say that the Great Recession had officially ended June 2009, this “jobless” recovery is finally hitting states that, until previously, only “other” states had fallen under its crushing wheels — like California, for example.
And last night’s State of the Union address did little to make me less restless and twitchy about the uncertain financial journey ahead.