Texas Legislative Update – the People’s Unfinished Business
By JoAnn Fleming
This is what principled leadership looks like! Click on this link to see the bill signing news conference:
While the leadership of the Texas House and Senate played political games to run out the special session clock, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed an immigration reform law Monday (06/27/11), establishing a $1.3 million illegal enforcement unit for the state.
The South Carolina law, the latest immigration reform measure to pass state legislatures around the nation, requires employers to use the federal E-Verify system to check employees’ and job applicants’ citizenship status. It also establishes a team of immigration police aimed at enforcing the new law. The unit will have 12 full-time officers.
Governor Nikki Haley has proven her talk by her walk. The South Carolina legislature and Governor Haley got the job done, and they got the job done in a non-border state.
Texas Leadership Fails to Get the Job Done
In our border state of Texas, with a super-majority of Republicans in the House, a majority in the Senate, Republican Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, and Republican Governor Rick Perry, our state leadership could not manage simple anti-sanctuary city legislation – legislation that did not include E-verify, another much-needed reform measure.
In January, Governor Perry made anti-sanctuary city legislation an emergency item for the Texas legislature. The legislature failed to get the job done in the 82nd regular session. With strong urging from the grassroots, Governor Perry put it back on the special session call. The special session ended yesterday in yet another failure simply because House Speaker Joe Straus, State Affairs Committee Chairman Byron Cook, and his committee members purposefully kept the bill bottled up in committee for two weeks after the TX Senate passed the legislation! In spite of valiant efforts by a small group of conservatives in the TX House and Senate, the Republican leadership has failed yet again to protect Texas and failed to uphold the rule of law.
And if that’s not bad enough…
The TX legislature also failed to pass the Fourth Amendment-defending TSA anti-groping bill along with anti-Sharia law legislation and scores of other bills dealing with illegal immigration and its heavy toll on Texas. Why did most of these bills fail to make it out of committee with the GOP-controlled branches of executive and legislative state government? Political games, special interests, cowardice, and a lack of leadership…
Simply filing bills and talking big won’t fool the People of Texas. Texans don’t need, don’t want, and don’t deserve the games being played by establishment Republicans. The truth is — in Texas, most of our GOP leadership marches to the tune of special business interests who put their love of cheap labor above the safety, security, and financial well-being of Texas citizens and legal immigrants.
Texas taxpayers cannot afford to be a social safety net for all who want to come here illegally to access taxpayer-funded services. These services and jobs should go to citizens and legal immigrants – period. The People’s reasonable expectation that our elected leaders would take the oath of office seriously and uphold the rule of law has once again been ignored by our state leadership.
Will Governor Rick Perry Step Up?
The Texas anti-sanctuary cities legislation was a limited first step to deal with the flood of illegal aliens coming into Texas. Our leaders failed to move this one small step forward while law enforcement officers, citizens, and legal immigrants continue to die at the hands of illegals, while private property is plundered, while the cost of social services continues to explode, and while certain cities may well indeed harbor serious threats to national security.
Will Governor Perry – who has served as governor of this border state for ten years – step up and call the Texas Legislature back into another special session to get anti-sanctuary city, E-verify, and Fourth Amendment, liberty-defending legislation passed? Or, in view of the legislature’s failures, will he lead by signing an executive order to get the job done for Texas? Perry has a history of signing executive orders for matters far less important than these fundamental “rule of law” issues.
What We Have Asked Governor Perry to Do:
This week the white horse was saddled up and placed right in front of Governor Rick Perry by Texas grassroots constitutional conservatives. In a meeting with Governor Perry on Tuesday, June 28, 2011 – one day before sine die of the special session – we directly asked him, begged him, to step up to do the right thing by calling another special session in a few weeks or by issuing an executive order. Media reports say Perry doesn’t seem compelled to make any more attempts to resolve the People’s unfinished business…as he left the state for yet another trip to California – the second trip to the nation’s most populous state in less than three weeks.
Meanwhile, grassroots leaders across Texas and the nation are waiting to see what Governor Perry does. Texas is sitting in the shadow of South Carolina, Alabama, and many other states whose leadership has boldly stood up for the rule of law.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley proved this week that she doesn’t just talk. She leads the charge. Texas has its share of big talkers, but rhetorical bravado delivered with fist-pounding anger directed toward Washington won’t save Texas from becoming California, and it won’t save our country. We want principled leadership. We need courage in action. We deserve results.
TX Budget Success? Fairy Tales, the Medicaid Credit Card & Formula One Racing
Texas lawmakers dealt with the budget shortfall and balanced the budget with no new taxes and no tax increases, but $12 billion of the cuts were the one-time federal stimulus funds used to balance the 2010-2011 biennium budget. The 2012-2013 budget is balanced with some other cuts, tax payment speed ups, accounting gimmicks, and an estimated $4.6 billion charge to a “Medicaid credit card.” In other words, Texas has a planned budget shortfall for 2013 when legislators will once again raid the Rainy Day Fund (the People’s Savings Account). If kicking the can down the road and delaying tough decisions is wrong in Washington, DC, what makes it right for Texas?
The legislature left many commonsense spending cuts on the table. Texas Republican leadership refused to champion and push for sensible cost-cutting measures offered by conservative legislators in both the House and the Senate, for example – pay cuts for statewide officials and state employees (not teachers) who make $60,000 and above; and a hiring freeze for all state agencies (excluding law enforcement, corrections, and the court system). Texas still has many overlapping, duplicated departments, agencies, and programs (twenty-three plus agencies alone that manage natural resources). If waste is wrong in Washington, DC, why isn’t it equally wrong for Texas?
The legislature and Governor Perry also approved $25 million for Formula One Race track funding for the billionaire promoter and special interests in Austin. No matter how many times we got this pork stripped out of the budget by the few conservatives in the House and Senate, it always rose from the dead in conference committee and stayed in the budget. Our Republican Comptroller and other state leaders deeply desired this project and arm-twisted to bring it back to life. If crony capitalism and pork are wrong in Washington, DC, what makes them right for Texas?
The State of Texas has no business serving as an investment banker or venture capitalist for entertainment venues. Leveraging tax dollars for private special interests is not a core constitutional responsibility of state government. It’s just plain wrong.
Does Texas have True Constitutional Conservative “Walk the Talk” Leadership?
Right now, the jury is out in Texas, but patience is wearing thin – blisteringly, painfully thin. Our governor has a new book entitled, Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington. It’s a good book, written at the right time. Like Governor Perry’s likeable Texas drawl, his swagger, and his animated protests against Big DC Government, it’s red meat for the conservative masses, but back here in Texas, we’re fed up with continued inaction on the issue of illegal immigration and a state government desperately in need of structural reforms to reduce unsustainable spending, eliminate waste, simplify school funding, reduce debt, and end transportation funding diversions.
Constitutional conservative Independents, Republicans, Reagan Democrats, TEA Parties, 912s, and other grassroots groups should be very careful not to prematurely jump on any Presidential candidate’s (or potential candidate’s) train. Doing so may have you riding a slow train to disappointment or one that goes off the rails once folks check to see what actually fuels that engine. It could prove to be a lot of hot air…
The burning question remains – will Governor Rick Perry step up? Will he stand up for the rule of law and for Texas citizens and legal immigrants? Or is Rick Perry satisfied to sit in the shadow of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley? His white horse is saddled up and waiting.
JoAnn Fleming serves as Chairman of the TEA Party Caucus Advisory Committee for the Texas State Legislature. She is the full-time volunteer Executive Director of Grassroots America – We the People of Tyler/Smith County, Texas, (www.gawtp.com) and is a former county commissioner. She is a subject matter consultant in local government public policy development, Performance Management, Organizational Development, Teambuilding, Small Business Consulting, Political Campaign Management/Strategy, and Grassroots Activist Training. A leader in the conservative movement for nineteen years, she has served on twenty local government boards, committees, and task forces. JoAnn is a regional public speaker and a guest political analyst/commentator for Tyler/Smith County local media. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 903.894.7204