Union leader says lawmakers' education cuts, Medicaid changes 'immoral'
Published: February 16, 2012
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The secretary-treasurer of the Texas AFL-CIO said lawmakers in his home state last year conducted "the most immoral legislative session I have ever witnessed," especially their actions on education funding and Medicaid. John Patrick, a Catholic, also criticized lawmakers for trying to pass a measure that he said would have made it illegal for labor officials to use union dues to "advocate for working families." But he reserved his greatest scorn for budget cuts. "In 2011, the Texas Legislature took $4 billion out of public schools. Instead of investing in our future, Texas lawmakers divested from the future," he said. "Instead of helping the poorest among us, Texas lawmakers wrote billions of dollars in IOUs for Medicaid." The cuts were part of a two-year budget the Republican-controlled Legislature passed last May. School districts had to lay off about 32,000 school employees, including 12,000 teachers. Democratic lawmakers and the Texas State Teachers Association have asked the Gov. Rick Perry to call a special session to resolve the crisis. Patrick noted that the state Legislature meets for only 140 days every two years, so the regular session will not convene until 2013. Last year, Texas lawmakers also voted to shift Medicaid care to a managed-care system. Supporters of the move said it would cut costs, but opponents said it would just reduce services for the poor and elderly. Patrick spent most of his time on state legislation that targeted unions. "In Texas, a bill was introduced early in last year's session that sponsors called 'Paycheck Protection.' Those of us in the labor movement called it 'Paycheck Deception,'" he said.
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