While hoping a miracle happens, we are probably tired of reading and talking about property tax relief, tax reform, education reform and ending Robin Hood as our legislators are. In fact, the majority has already physically checked out of Austin.
The Governor is frustrated by his inability to bring the House and Senate over the finish line. The Speaker's mind is back in Midland and the Lieutenant Governor keeps trying.
It is not too early to sort out what went wrong. TCR believes it is all tied to priorities and focus on a jumbled tax system where some pay and some do not.
So here is TCR's advice for whatever it is worth, ten points to ponder!
Will 2006 Be The Year Of The Political Outsider?
- Focus property tax relief funds on adjusting the homestead allowance to adjust for the last ten years in tax increases, effectively indexing it for the last ten years and continue it in the future by indexing it to the average residential property tax increase yearly.
- Pass the Perry/Janek/Bohac legislation to lower the cap on any valuation increases to 3% per year from the present 10% on homes. (TCR calls these un-voted for tax increases).
- Make sure all property is taxed equitably including vacation homes and business property.
- Redo the business taxes, fees, franchise taxes, etc. by making them low and broad-based and eliminate exemptions and loopholes so all have to pay.
- Broaden and lower the sales tax by eliminating exemptions and lowering the rate and allowing cities and counties to have more of the sales tax to make up for funds lost in property tax relief.
- End and do not mend Robin Hood, end bilingual education and substitute English immersion and support November school board elections. Simplify state and TEA education mandates except to require at least 65% of the monies be spent in the classroom.
- Constitutionally define what equity in education means in a conservative way.
- Control runaway state spending by instituting Medicaid reform, enforceable spending limits and focusing on the real problems for the state and elimination of wasteful programs by the appointment of a Texas type "Grace Commission" on government waste.
- Take a hard look at some of "so called" Republicans in the legislature who talk conservative and vote for big government.
- The Republican Party of Texas needs to get with it. On conservative issue after issue, the Republican Party of Texas was lost, missing, silent or ineffective. To get real conservative progress on tax reforms and reduction or education reform and spending control, we need a focused conservative agenda and we need to be exposing those who don't stand with the conservatives.
Conservatives lately have been asking, will 2006 be the year outsiders win GOP legislative primaries?
Typically GOP legislative primaries are almost always won by incumbents or by incumbents trying to move up but with the ineffective three legislative sessions, will this be the final straw for many long-term incumbents who are Republicans in name only?
TCR is aware of some polls going on around the state to test this idea. One thing is clear, some politicians are part of the solution and some are part of the problem. We need to send more people to Austin who are part of the conservative solution. Besides, experience can be an over rated virtue.
The Challenge Ahead
By Ed Check
I assume you are looking ahead to the Republican primary and the state convention. I have been reflecting on the direction of our party and a few points (in no particular order) come to mind about some of the failures of the current state party leadership:
- No real agenda offered in the school finance reform debate. Why not more discussion on how little is spent on instruction, how much on administration, or the over-abundance of ISD's around the state?
- Lack of effective Victory programs.
- Little, if any, assistance to county parties.
- Poor, if non-existent, ballot security operations.
- Lack of growth in the number of Republican primary voters, particularly among "non-traditional" voters.
- Improperly conducted SREC meetings, including the one where party affiliates, such as RNHA and TFRW who do a lot of good work for the party, were not re-certified.
- No real outreach efforts. Fortunately Gov. Perry has made some key appointments which have increased the number of minority statewide officials, but nothing has been done by the party to build up a minority "farm team". HD35 is just one example of a seat we might pick up with a Hispanic candidate. Do we really want only one Republican Hispanic in the legislature? Shouldn't the party's outreach coordinator be Hispanic?
- Excessive staff turnover at party H.Q. I've lost count of the number of executive directors, press secretaries, and political directors over the last year or so.
- Little or no effort to rebut the left's efforts to hijack our issues.
- Little or no criticism of key Democrat initiatives, such as efforts to raise taxes through the RMA's, particularly in Travis County.
- I am sure I do not need to remind you that over the last cycle we have lost ground not only in the legislature, but also in key counties such as Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis.
I trust I am not out of line in thinking that perhaps it is time for new leadership of the state party. I look forward to hearing from all the candidates for chair and vice chair about what they think needs to be done.
Thanks for all you do on behalf of our common sense, conservative agenda for a better Texas.
TCR Note: Ed Check is a key GOP activist and former staff member at the Republican Party of Texas and Executive Director at the Harris County Republican Party.
Book Review: Sex Appealed:
Was The US Supreme Court Fooled?
TCR has just finished the new book that tells the "inside" story of Lawrence v. Texas. The landmark case which legalized sodomy in Texas and kicked away roadblocks on the road to gay marriage.
TCR answers the question "yes", as TCR had a front row seat and its editor is featured in the book. A minor quibble: the volunteer position as ascribed to my wife is the repeat of an old discredited Houston Press attack.
The author, Judge Janice Law, is a former journalist. Lawrence v. Texas, was assigned to her Houston, Texas criminal court in 1998 shortly before she took her bench. "Rumors circulated immediately in the Harris County, Texas courthouse that the arrests were a setup, that the defendants invited their arrest," Judge Law said.
The Supreme Court based its historic decision on right to privacy.
"If the setup were known during the case's five year appeal journey from my court, then the defendants would not have a right to privacy claim, and the U.S. Supreme Court may never have heard the case, or may have decided it differently", Judge Law explained.
After the high court's reverberant ruling, she decided to investigate the still lingering set up rumors. By then she was a visiting judge, sitting for judges who are on vacation or ill.
She interviewed everyone involved in the case from denizens of Houston's gay bars, to the defendants' New York attorneys and has nailed what happened because of her dogged search for the truth.
In Sex Appealed, Judge Law weaves a non-fiction narrative of sex, jealousy, betrayal, ambition, political maneuvering and murder.
The book is a worthy read and Judge Law is to be commended for her hard work. Conservatives need to read this to understand how devious the other side is and what the battle is about.
Sex Appealed: Was The US Supreme Court Fooled? is now available for purchase on Amazon.com, at www.eakinpress.com, at major bookstores, and through Judge Janice Law's website, www.JudgeJaniceLaw.com.
Watch TCR Editor Gary Polland face off with liberal Democratic activist David Jones - weekdays on Standoff on Local 2 News at 4:45 p.m.,. Monday through Friday on KPRC Channel 2 in Houston. Email topics to TCR or www.click2houston.com, for what you'd like to see debated.
COMING - August 26 at 8 p.m. to Channel 8 PBS in Houston, Texas - the connection - Red, White & Blue featuring TCR Editor Gary Polland and liberal commentator David Jones. The guest is Congressman Ted Poe. And coming soon Senator Rodney Ellis, Religious Conservative Leader Rev. Rick Scarbrough, Comptroller Carole Strayhorn and many more.
About Your Editor
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who recently completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chairman. During his three terms, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events - The National Conservative Weekly. He is in his ninth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last four years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant and can be reached at (713) 621-6335.
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