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Other Voices: What Texas editors are saying

By Beaumont Enterprise
March 17, 2017 at 4 a.m.

Focus on education

Texans who care about better education in this state — that should be all of us — are facing bleak prospects in the Legislature. A House budget proposal would defund all of Gov. Greg Abbott's ambitious plans for expanded pre-K. At the other end of the education spectrum, state colleges and universities could be facing major cuts in basic funding and research.

If you're looking for a silver lining in this gloom, keep squinting. The numbers just aren't there, with state government facing a budget shortfall of up to $7 billion. A budget like that is going to produce cutbacks and state leaders are committed to increased funding for agencies like Child Protective Services that desperately need it.

If spending cuts for education are unavoidable, so be it. No one wants a tax increase, nor should they. Over time, state revenues will ebb and flow, so state spending should too.

But any reductions in this core responsibility of state government must be as small as possible. Before that happens, lawmakers must be sure every other line item in the budget has been checked and rechecked for possible savings.

One obvious candidate could be the $800 million spent on border security with questionable results, a sum that was doubled in the 2015 legislative session.

That's mostly a federal responsibility, and President Donald Trump has made it clear this is a priority for him. If federal spending along the border is heading up, state spending there should be heading down.

Beyond that, lawmakers need to focus on a real-world challenge like education funding instead of over-hyped issues like a Convention of the States, which lost its slim rationale when Trump won the presidency. Or Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's obsession with a bathroom bill that would prevent crimes that aren't occurring. Or proposals to require the burial of fetal remains, which is just another effort to reduce abortions.

January and February have given way to a new month. The House and Senate should use the remaining time in this session to make the best of a tight budget.

The final tally on education spending will reveal how well they did.

— Beaumont Enterprise

Cliburn's beautiful music

Fort Worth will be filled with beautiful music this May.

As the 15th Van Cliburn Piano Competition begins May 25, music lovers will have more access to the prestigious competition than ever.

Thirty pianists, chosen worldwide, will compete for the coveted medals and global recognition. Over 17 days, these talented artists will play multiple recitals. ...

The event ... is the highlight of the summer, but some residents don't know much about it.

The Cliburn wants to change that. ...

Fathom Events, which broadcasts plays and sporting events to cinemas, will screen the final competition rounds in 300 theaters nationwide. will host webcasts that will stream live recitals and have supplemental content, like interviews and behind-the-scenes sneak peeks.

The Cliburn wants to give as much access to the classical music competition as possible.

Everyone should get a chance to hear these talented artists. Making that easy is music to our ears.

— Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Put them to work

Summer jobs were once a rite of passage, a way of figuring out what you did or didn't want to do with your life. But in 2014 only about a third of young people could find a summer job.

For many Texas youth who live in economically disadvantaged households, the barriers to finding a summer job, especially a meaningful one, are formidable. Their families may lack a tradition of higher education or professional employment. Students may not know how to put together a resume, how to locate internships or how to apply.

Mayor Sylvester Turner and the Greater Houston Partnership have created a program that seeks to remedy this situation. The Hire Houston Youth Program encourages employers to post internship opportunities and trains students on the application process.

While accepting applications from all youth, the program focuses on students in some of the most disadvantaged parts of the city. ...

Summer jobs foster a sense of responsibility while allowing students to earn much-needed income and help families struggling to get by. They give children of poverty hope, but also a life goal.

A robust youth job program broadens the horizons of the participants and meets workforce needs, as well. "If we fundamentally believe that the people of this region are our most important asset, then we should spend the time to make sure they are developed effectively," Peter Beard, the partnership's senior vice president of workforce development, told the Chronicle. ...

The alternative is bleak. People who fail to find work early in their lives run a risk of being unemployed and underemployed into early adulthood and beyond, according to researchers. That's needless lost potential.

Let's don't let Houston's youth languish during summer's dog days. Put them to work.

— Houston Chronicle



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