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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung: Friday, June 27, 2003 - Page 6

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   New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 27, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas                                Page 6A HERAlJZErruNG Friday June FORUM Contact Managing Editor Gary E Maitland 6259144 ext 220 NEW BRAUNPBLS HERALDZEITUNG New Braunfels Zeitung was founded 1852 New Braunfels Herald was founded 1890 The two papers merged in 1957 and printed in both German and English until 1958 Doug Toney Editor and Publisher Gary E Maitland Managing Editor Other views BryanCollege Station Eagle on budget wrangling Tbxas legislators have only one job to do when they meet in regular session every two years pass a balanced budget Everything else is optional This year they couldnt even get their budget duty right Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn June 19 refused to certify the budget lawmakers approved late last month noting it was mil lion short on income to cover the projected spend ing Under Texas law the comptroller must certify state budgets to make sure they balance Strayhorn became the first comptroller to refuse to approve the budget Lawmakers poohpoohed Strayhorns decision The million shortfall was merely a techni cal Some error They said they really meant to delay until 2006 the transfer of some million from the states general fund to a special account designed to mod ernize the states transportation system Lawmakers just forget to mention that in the budget Oops Guess they were too busy worrying about redistrict ing and other unnecessary Gov Rick Perry put pressure apparently a lot of pressure on Strayhorn She allowed the governor to veto portions of two spending bills to cut million from Strayhorns comptrollers office budget thus bringing the state budget into balance with a few stray millions left over Of course Texans have to ask if the comptrollers office can lose million without affecting opera tions could similar amounts be found in other state office budgets Perhaps enough to restore the funding cuts that will be so devastating to so many Texans Oh well the budget has been approved Now law makers can get to the serious business of meeting Rep Tom DeLays demands for more Republi cans in Congress Let the fun begin Today In History BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Today is Friday June 27 the 178th day of 2003 There are 187 days left in the year Todays history highlight On June 27 1950 Presi dent Truman ordered the Air Force and Navy into the Korean conflict following a call from the Security Council for member nations to help South Korea repel an invasion from the North On this date In 1844 Mormon leader Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were killed by a mob in Carthage 111 In 1893 the New York stock market crashed In 1942 the FBI announced the capture of eight Nazi saboteurs who had been put ashore from a submarine on New Yorks Long Island In 1957 more than 500 people were killed when Hurricane Audfey slam med through coastal Loui siana and Texas In 1969 patrons at the Stonewall Inn a gay bar in New Yorks Greenwich Vil lage clashed with police in what is considered the birth of the gay rights movement Policy The HeraldZeitung en courages the submission of letters Letters must be 260 wordp or fewer and the Herald Zeitung reserves the right to edit all submissions Guest columns should be less than 500 words An address and telephone number which arenot for publication must be includ ed so authorship can be con firmed No letter will be published until it has been verified Mail letters to Letters to the Editor HeraldZeitung Drawer 311328 New Braunfels TX 781311328 Fax 830 6063413 email Get school funding off homeowners backs Its time to replace the current public school finan cing system Legislators need to eliminate home owners from paying all or most school property taxes Several options could be used as sources of financ ing Eliminate the loopholes in the business franchise tax make businesses pay their fair share toward edu cating Texas children Use the state lottery It was supposed to be used entirely to finance public education Either take the current net for public schools as originally intended or raise the price of every tick et sold to or and take a larger percentage for pub lic school funding Also reduce the odds of winningthe lottery Initiate a small state sales and use tax solely to support school financing Write Em PETER STERN Guest Column one cent or two cents Eliminate considera tion of a school voucher sys tem When homeowners no longer pay skyrocketing school property taxes and schools are financed proper ly there wont be a need for a costly voucher system with high maintenance Set up a separate pub lic education fund via sales and service taxes again a oneor twocent charge to go toward school financing Apply a small school finance charge to every business operating in Texas no exceptions Take more of the cur rent tax or increase the tax on the purchase of liquor and tobacco Take some of the cur rent tax or raise a few cents the tax on gasoline Take a small percent age of monthly charges by rental properties and apart ment complexes to go direct ly to public school financ ing Establish a traveler education fund whereby all hotels and rental car com panies charge a service fee that goes to finance educa tion Establish an airport education fund whereby the cost of flight tickets includes a fee that goes to finance education Add a fee for driver licenses renewal and for vehicle registration to go to finance public education Add a fee on month ly utilities telephones elec tricity and gas to go to finance public education Add a fee to all entertainment tickets to go to finance public education theater movies sports games concerts Using all or several of these alternative methods will replace Texas home owners from being overbur dened as the sole source of school financing and the quality of our childrens education will continue to improve Dr Peter Stern a retired and disabled veteran lives in Driftwood with his wife two daughters and a son He holds postgraduate de grees from New York Uni versity Nassau College and Queens College and has 10 years in public education as a teacher principal and di rector of programs in New York City and New Mexico In addition for 10 years he was director of Information Systems for state govern ment in President George W Bush 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW Washington 20500 Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison RDallas Room 284 Russell Senate Office Building Washington 20510 202 2245922 Fax 202 2240776 8023 Vantage Suite 460 San Antonio 78230 John Cofnyn Senate Russell Courtyard 5 Washington 20510 202 2242934 Fax 202 2282856 All emails are sent through the Web site Austin office Jennifer Lustina state director Beth Cubriel field director 221 West Sixth Suite 1530 Austin 78701 Fax 512 4696020 San Antonio office Daniel Mezza regional director 600 Navarro Suite 210 San Antonio 78205 Congressman Lamar Smith RSan Antonio Room 2231 Raybum House Office Building Washington 20515 202 2254236 1100 NE Loop 410 Suite 640 San Antonio 78209 Governor Rick Perry State Capitol Room Box 12428 Austin 78711 800 8435789 Texas State Representative Carter Casteel RNew Braunfels District office 254 E Mill St New Braunfels 78130 830 6278820 Fax 830 6278895 How to contact in Austin Box2910 Austin 787682190 email address Texas State Senator Jeff Wentworth RSan Antonio 1250 NE Loop 410 Suite 720 San Antonio 78209 How to contact in Austin Fax 512 4637794 Email address jeff.wentworth@senate.state.tx.us Judith Zaffirini DLaredo Box 627 Laredo 780420627 956 7222293 12702 Toepperwein Rd San Antonio 78233 Houses prescription drug bill no help at all AUSTIN Food fight Heres a beauty to vote or not to vote to favor or not to favor the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill Theoretically everybodys in favor of a plan to help senior citi zens with prescription drug costs which are truly appalling Many seniors literally have to choose between their meds or food Every one agrees its awful the ques tion is whether the bills currently in the House and Senate are actu ally an improvement Those of you who make up your minds based on the ifhesforit Imagainstit method quite a few people seem to be doing that these days are in deep doodoo on this one True Ted Kennedy is for it and The Wall Street Journal is against it On the other hand the White House is for it and pretty much everyone on the left except Ken nedy is against it The press is helpfully wringing its hands and announcing This is soooo compli So lets try the unusual maneu ver of actually looking at the mer MOLLY IVINS its of the thing If you put as Consumer Reports has helpfully done the hybrid House bill up against the Democrats version by the respected Medicare expert John Dingell its no contest The Democratic bill is better in every respect except of course it costs more It has the additional flaw of being unlikely to pass in the Republican House In fact the Republicans are not entirely sure they can get their own awful version passed For starters the Republican version covers at best 22 percent of pro jected prescription drug expendi tures It includes a deducti ble 20 percent coinsurance up to and 50 percent coinsur ance on to and costs an extra a month Theres an even weirder hitch called the a hole in the middle that leaves seniors spending between and uncovered Dont even ask how that got in there you dont want to know about that bit of sausagemaking According to CRs calculations the average Medicare beneficiary now spending for meds would find the outofpocket cost under the Republican version higher in 2007 a total of in constant dollars Under the Senate bill CRE esti mates the same would come to in 2007 including premium deductible copayments and the If the growth of prescription drug expenditures moderates below historical levels to 12 per cent a year and this is unlikely because neither bill includes suffi cient safeguards to hold down drug the average Medicare beneficiary would still face under the House bill outofpocket costs in 2007 that are approximately the same as they are now Under the Senate bill outofpocket costs would be only marginally lower than those of concludes CR So heres the politics on the deal Kennedy is supporting the Senate version because A its marginally better than what we have now and B in one of the worst cliches of political debate this gets the head of the camel into the tent In otherwords its a start and a better program can be built later in fact it pretty much will have to be The White Houses logic is A Republicans promised a prescription drug benefit and B they can pass this in time for the 2004 election and take credit for it but it doesnt go into effect until 2006 a clever so no one will have time to figure out its a fraud Of course the Republicans orig inally wanted to use this as a tool to break down Medicare complete ly insisting on more private sec tor involvement Bush initially planned to use the bill to herd seniors into HMOs Since private insurance companies refuse to serve seniors in rural areas and have already dropped million seniors hi unprofitable areas and since seniors in private plans are getting hit with soaring pre miums and shrinking benefits thats a nonstarter The biggest missed opportunity in both House and Senate versions was not using any tool to rein in drug company profits Please note generous contributions by drug companies to politicians of both The loopholes that delay the introduction of generic drugs should be plugged up and the government should use its purchasing power to negotiate lower prices Bottom line Kennedys right The Senate version is incremen tally better and in politics you should always take half a loaf or even 22 percent of a loaf if you can get it But if the Senate ver sion is even slightly weakened by the repulsive House version geddaboutit Molly Ivins is a syndicated   

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