Texas’ hostility to public investment is starting to come home to roost in tangible ways. Great piece in the New York Times about how falling transportation funding manifests itself in gravel roads, one of the few places where spending cuts are felt by nearly everyone.
Transportation is not the state’s only underfinanced program, but it is in a unique position when talking about the consequences of its budget. Health and human services agencies don’t get to talk about how many more people will get sick or die if their financing is cut. It is somewhere between difficult and impossible to tie public school performance to state financing, if only because so many other variables muddle the numbers. Regulatory agencies don’t wave around projections on how many industrial plants won’t be inspected and what the consequences might be.
You have to admire the honesty of the transportation people. This is what you spend, and that is what you get. Cut spending, cut expectations. Easy as pie. They seem to be in one of the rare areas of state government where the people involved are allowed to say right out loud what a budget decision will actually mean.
Others have to say they will do more with less, a way of saying that they either didn’t need as much money to do the job as they first thought or that they hope the corners they cut to save money won’t cause anyone any trouble — or at least any trouble that will get noticed by voters and politicians.