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Mobilize Around Legislative Session!

The NAACP and LULAC set February 28 for a "Lobby Day" in Austin. Among the issues they prioritize is the "ten percent rule" that helps top students get an education despite their economic situation. The Dallas NAACP will discuss state and local issues at their regular meeting on the First Tuesday.

The teachers, state workers, and communications workers are among the other progressive groups organizing lobby days during this legislative session. Some of the top issues are: school finance, workers' comp, and minimum wage.

School finance has been a disgrace in Texas since the days of the Republic. Currently, they are throwing out the system that brought the greatest equity in Texas history, but provided mostly "equality in poverty." In other words, the cuts in state funding for schools and the constitutional limits on raising property taxes have effectively put all of the state's schools into a financial crunch. The issue for working people, as with everything else is "who pays, and who gets the benefit?" If top Texas lawmakers get their way, the rich will get better educational opportunity while the poor pay more through regressive taxation schemes. Some of the proposals get complicated, but they share the same odious quality of benefiting the rich and hurting the poor.

The Texas Legislature undermined our workers' comp laws so devastatingly in 1989 that most of us thought they could get no worse. They essentially took away our right to get legal representation to help us get employers to stand good for workplace injuries. Now, they have thought of something even more demonic: taking away our right to choose a doctor! The various proposals would let the employers pick the doctors! At the same time, proposals want to make labor's input into the process even less than it is now.

Representative Lon Burnam of Ft Worth has a proposal to raise the state minimum wage to $6.15 or to the federal minimum wage, whichever is higher. Currently, Texas and the nation mandate only $5.15/hour, which was never enough and is getting more ridiculous with each new inflation announcement. The Center for Public Policy Priorities says 235,000 Texans work for the hourly minimum wage. Forty percent of them are sole breadwinners for their families!