News Room

April 13, 2007

"Today, vote me as standing for children. We will build the medical school—but we must build a state that cares for children too."

Written by Senator Eliot Shapleigh,


"Texas Pioneer Woman" with child

Some issues are larger than us.

Today, the children of Texas are at risk, not El Paso's medical school.  In my vote against S.B. 1, the budget bill, on the Senate floor yesterday, I voted with the people of El Paso and the children of Texas to invest in them and invest in our future.

Over the last 10 years, state leaders have valued tax cuts over kids.  Here is the result:

  • more drop outs than any state in the country,
  • fewer students with high school degrees than any state ;
  • the highest percentage of uninsured children in the country;
  • foster children sleeping in hotels, among other problems at CPS;
  • staffing levels at TYC that are 1/3 of the national average for staffing levels at similar facilities; and
  • staffing levels in mental health facilities that have earned us a lawsuit with the Department of Justice;

This morning, for example, I received a heartfelt letter from an El Paso librarian.  She writes, "I, along with thousands of others, are back here in the trenches with not enough staff, materials or technology for a 21st Century education experience.  I have the training and the desire…but because of funding issues do not have any library staff besides myself in this 7,000 square foot facility.  I am run ragged…."

As a state, we must make investment in children a clear value.  For that reason, even though this bill included $43 million for our medical school, in good conscience I must take a stand for children in our great state.  Our medical building will get built; that is not the issue.  What is the issue is standing strong for investment in our children and our future, not more tax cuts for the wealthy.

In this budget, with a $14.3 billion surplus, $3 billion in tax cuts is reserved for the wealthiest Texans in 2010-2011 four years from now.  Remember that the surplus was built on the backs of children when radicals cut 500,000 children from CHIP and Medicaid in 2003.  Instead of funding basic programs that give opportunity to our youngest citizens, nine in ten tax cut dollars will go to people who make more than $85,000.

With that $3 billion, we could have funded another 200,000 in CHIP; 100,000 children in TEXAS Grants for scholarships; funded universities to stop the 47% tuition increases; put more money in highways and less in tolls; increased funding to mental health and mental retardation facilities where 186 Texans have died over the last 18 months; and increased funding to Child Protective Services, where hundreds of children are currently staying in hotels.

So, today, vote me as standing for children. We will build the medical school—but we must build a state that cares for children too.

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