In a legislature dominated by radical right-wing extremists, it is difficult to emerge as a standout opponent of public education, yet Rep. Raul Torres took on this challenge with immense pride.
Torres has spent his time in the legislature as a proud roadblock to education funding. Yet in a hypocrisy that only rivals the incessant GOP lies accusing President Obama of stealing money out of Medicare, Torres has criticized his opponent, Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa for “voting to reduce education funding”. This accusation stems from Hinojosa's vote on the 2011 budget, a budget that included a $4 billion cut to education funding.
Hinojosa voted for it, Torres voted against it. Indeed on the face of it, Torres's charges seem fair and grounded. But his version of the story is in fact remarkably hypocritical and incomplete.
Torres did vote against the education-cutting budget, but not for the reasons he would like you to believe. In his protest of the bill, Torres explained that the cuts “weren't deep enough” and failed to rein in spending as he had promised. Hinojosa's vote however, was deemed by the Senator as a lesser of two evils. The greater evil, he argued, was HB 1, the House version of the bill voted for by Rep. Torres, which would cut an added $4 billion from public education funding. Hinojosa understood, “HB 1 is Ugly. The Senate bill is bad, but sometimes we have to make hard choices.”
Let's discuss that ugly HB 1 for a moment. Jason Embry, of the Austin American-Statesman explained that this is a bill that would have given school districts about $7.8 billion less than before, or $870 less per student. This is a bill that cuts funding for pre-kindergarten, school technology, teacher incentive pay and programs that aim to increase student interest in math and science. This is a bill that would cost teachers their jobs. This was the bill supported by Rep. Raul Torres, and the Senate compromise was the bill that he believes didn't go far enough.
Senator Hinojosa worked across party lines to limit the damaging cuts as much as he could. You can only play the cards you are dealt, and the Democrats in the minority of the Texas legislature are dealt a constant 3-7. Hinojosa's work kept a painful blow from becoming a lethal one. No proponent of public schools likes the compromise, and nobody is less content than Senator Hinojosa. Whether he should have voted for a bill that is at best a lesser of evils is a debatable point, but not a point that can be taken seriously by the guy who wished the bill was considerably more devastating.
The RNC has shown us this year's Republican Party hopes to win on lies, and Raul Torres has embraced this method of distortion with open arms. He knows exactly what he is doing. Hopefully in a race that has fallen under the radar, the voters know too.