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Re: Art Education/Politcial Forum? Your facts

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Artemis420_at_TeacherArtExchange
Date: Mon Oct 09 2000 - 10:56:05 PDT


In a message dated 10/9/00 5:57:18 AM, gprandon@erols.com writes:

<< What is your average class size now? Ours in TX is 22
or less in the elem. level. What have Clinton/Gore
done to reduce class size in 8 years? And where are
Some facts about Bush and education. This so called tax relief is a way of
de funding the government and clearing the way for corporate abuse and
allowing the internationally wealthy few (like Bush and Texaco} a free hand
on all continents.

George W. Bush had a simple fiscal policy as Texas Governor: he called for
meeting the people's "basic needs" and returning what's left to "the hands
who earned it." But it didn't work that way for Ray Haros, a poor kid from
Austin's barrio in need of health insurance. While Bush delivered $2.7
billion in tax relief, Ray got left out of the equation.

Ray, 6, has been diagnosed with depression and attention-deficit disorder and
should be under regular care by a doctor. The Haros family income, which
rests on the mother's $5.35-an-hour job at a local candy plant, is low enough
to qualify him for Medicaid. But for reasons all too common in Bush's State,
Ray receives nothing from the federal and state insurer of the poor. Like
734,000 other uninsured Texas youngsters who live in poverty, he relies on
the uncertain charity of free clinics and social workers who scrounge for
medicine to help him. Of all Texas kids who are eligible for Medicaid, nearly
40% do not participate, putting Texas last among the 10 largest states,
according to Census Bureau projections for 2000 compiled by the American
Academy of Pediatrics.

Uninsured kids have become campaign props in this year's presidential
contest. So far, most of the political debate on the issue has focused on the
Governor's handling of the federal Children's Health Insurance Program, with
Bush taking credit for extending this benefit to 423,000 low-income children,
and Democrats slamming him for a slow and halfhearted startup of the plan.
But citing CHIP's performance as evidence that Bush is ignoring child health
is not really convincing, since 39 other states have done just as badly as
Texas in using federal funds allotted to them. The real failure in Texas, the
one for which the state stands out, is its poor record of reaching the much
larger pool of kids who are too poor for CHIP but eligible for Medicaid.
These are families of four with incomes at or below the poverty line of
$17,000.

To be sure, Bush inherited a huge gap in Medicaid enrollment from his Demo
cratic predecessor. When Bush took over in 1995, Medicaid officials failed to
reach about 30% of eligible children, according to the Center for Budget and
Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan Washington group. The percentage grew as
Texas families, forced off cash assistance by new welfare laws, were not told
that their children still qualified for Medicaid. Nevertheless, Bush put an
emphasis on tax cuts rather than spending to expand eligibility and break
down barriers to enrollment. Democrats contend that the Governor showed his
priorities when he opened the 1999 legislative session by declaring a $45
million tax-relief bill for oil-stripper wells to be an "emergency."

It was the legislature, not the Governor's office, that pushed to extend
Medicaid's reach. In 1995 lawmakers sought to widen the net to an additional
303,000 kids by expanding eligibility to families at 133% of the poverty
level. First, the state had to obtain approval from Washington. It sent its
plan within the statutory deadline and received a response from federal
officials, who asked the usual large number of questions. But instead of a
prompt follow-up, Bush's regulators waited nearly a year to submit a revised
version. Another volley of paperwork continued until August 1997, when
Congress passed the CHIP program, overtaking the state plan. But even then,
Bush took his time to start up CHIP, although the program requires less of a
state contribution than Medicaid (25% versus 40%). When CHIP finally did
start, last May, a total of five years had passed since the legislature first
attempted to cover many of the same youngsters.

The delay freed Texas from having to spend billions of dollars in matching
state grants, leaving enough money for Bush to pass $1 billion in tax relief
in the 1997 legislative session. Two years later, he set his sights on even
bigger tax cuts. To make the numbers work, Medicaid spending had to be
contained. The Governor's office fought a bill to require automatic
re-enrollment in Medicaid of kids still eligible after their parents were
dropped from welfare rolls. And under pressure from Bush allies running the
appropriations committees, Texas legislators accepted projections of a steep
decline in patient demand for Medicaid. Bush succeeded in passing another tax
cut, this one amounting to $1.7 billion. But the Medicaid forecasts proved
overly rosy, leaving the program with a $400 million deficit. The state
health department is looking for ways to offset it. One idea is to take more
than $17 million from hard-pressed programs for disabled children.

To insure kids like Ray Haros, advocates for the poor say, will take more
than money. Ray had Medicaid until his mother got a job three months ago and
stopped receiving cash aid. Rene Haros' income was low enough for her five
children to remain eligible for Medicaid. But no one told her that unless she
asked for it, they'd be cut off. To reapply, she has to navigate a complex
and intrusive process. She must go to an interview, fill out as many as 19
forms, reveal family assets and document everything from children's births to
job histories of adult household members. Once approved, Ray's mother will
have to return to the state office every six months to update her children's
eligibility.

Federal law does not impose such tough entry requirements, nor do most
states--38 have stopped in-person interviews, 40 have given up scrutiny of
family assets, and 15 offer year-round coverage without eligibility updates.
"[In Texas], we're literally discriminating against the poorest of the poor,"
said Democratic State representative Garnet Coleman.

Bush campaign spokesman Dan Bartlett said the Governor places a "high
priority" on child health, as seen in his support of CHIP, and that the state
is considering, among other things, making it easier to stay on Medicaid by
eliminating in-person interviews every six months. But when the public health
committee of the Texas house began discussing simpler rules last January,
Bush's point man on fiscal issues tried to nip it in the bud. Appropriations
committee chairman Robert Jungle had legislative budget analysts project the
costs to the state and made sure each legislator saw the eye-popping numbers:
$600 million over two years. Democratic representative Glen Maxey saw the
unsolicited analysis as an end run to scare off undecided members. "It's a
higher mountain to climb," Maxey told TIME. And he, for one, has little hope
of climbing it.

--With reporting by Hilary Hylton/Austin

LOST OPPORTUNITY?

Bush and Poor Kids

He helped secure tax cuts by underfunding Medicaid, causing a $400 million
shortfall in the program

He delayed on state law to expand Medicaid coverage for 303,000 new kids.
They went five years without insurance

He fought efforts to require automatic Medicaid coverage for kids from
families forced off welfare rolls

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When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.
-African proverb
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raise. Oh wait, Bush gave us a raise last year! The
only one teachers have gotten in almost 20 years in
TX. Hmmmmm..... >>