The Texas Senate has passed its own version of a budget, and it would cause fewer than the 330,000 public worker layoffs than would the House version. Labor hails the improvement, but says it's still lousy.
But there's cheerful news, sort of, for those frustrated Texans who have completely given up. Our wise leaders in the legislature are offering us several simple shortcuts to offing ourselves.
First of all on the gun front: large numbers of Texans are now legally carrying concealed weapons, thanks to earlier efforts by the lawmakers. Just to show that they put their butts where their mouths are, the legislature lets them carry pistols into the State Capitol during sessions. In fact, they encourage it. People with a gun permit can go through the security lines faster than the general public; consequently, all the lobbyists are armed. Many of us in Texas already think that the corporate lobbyists, with their disdain for the general welfare, have to be sociopaths. So now we have armed sociopaths running around the Capitol every day. It's a wonder nobody has shot the place up, yet.
Our better-known shootouts occur on college campuses. To some of us, it makes sense that every college campus in the state has banned weaponry; but not to some in the legislature. They want to pass a bill that would override every Texas colleges' ability to disarm their campuses, so we'd have more, not fewer, armed students. The lawmakers are proud to be on record for allowing Texans to carry guns, and probably not far from making it mandatory.
For those averse to violence, Texas leaders offer us the option of slow death by poisoning. They are infamous for opposing all federal environmental rules, and they are intent on weakening the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality. Those who care about their air and water already consider the TCEQ a corporate house pet, but legislators believe it can be weakened further.
Another swell new option for ending it all in Texas is the state's highways. Texas drivers already terrify anybody who ventures here in a car from another state, but our legislative leaders, in their wisdom, want to raise the speed limit to 85 MPH.
Everyone is getting in on the act of finality. Even our adored armadillos, it turns out, are lethal. The Los Angeles Times recently reported that Texas Armadillos carry leprosy.
Graphic by Jim Lane