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CSE Tax Pledge Shapes ’03 Oklahoma Agenda
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Press Release

CSE Tax Pledge Shapes ’03 Oklahoma Agenda

This election, Oklahoma CSE volunteer activists asked all state candidates to sign a pledge promising not to raise taxes during the next legislative session. Using e-mail, phone calls, and community walks, CSE informed all of its 4,700 Oklahoma members of the pledge results.

11/11/2002
GOP's Plan is to Push Agenda
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GOP's Plan is to Push Agenda

BY John Mortiz

AUSTIN--Flush with a smashing Election Day victory, Texas Republicans now hope to advance a legislative agenda they say has been blocked by decades of Democratic dominance. Even though they have held the governor's office for eight years, controlled the Texas Senate for six of those and have carried every statewide office for the past four years, the Republicans' power has always been checked by a Democratic majority in the Texas House and by its Democratic speaker. The elections broke the Democrats' control of the House and Democrat Pete Laney's 10-year reign as speaker. The Republicans' consolidation of power comes as Texas faces a looming budget shortfall and with voters demanding relief from the spiraling cost and declining coverage of homeowners insurance policies. But even with their unchallenged authority over all branches and all agencies of state government, the extent of the mandate handed to the Republicans remains unclear. "The only clear mandate that came out of the election was to fix homeowners insurance and maybe say no to a tax hike," said Harvey Kronberg, who publishes the Austin political newsletter Quorum Report. "The Republicans are not going to want to write a tax bill their first session when they are completely in charge." The Republican victors, led by Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov.-elect David Dewhurst, agree that homeowners insurance will be on the front burner Jan. 14 when lawmakers assemble for the 78th Legislature. But they adamantly insist that voters gave them clear instructions to wage a frontal assault on the challenges they say will face Texas in 2003. "We will address the state budget with a tighter belt, through budgetary reform, and with an eye toward smarter spending," Perry said in his first post-election news conference. "With a $114 billion budget, we have the resources to keep our fiscal house in order. We must now show the courage to set priorities. "We will address the lawsuit abuse that jeopardizes jobs and that drives up the cost of health care while good men and women leave the medical profession," said Perry, who won in his own right the job he assumed when George W. Bush became president. "And central to providing economic security for the people of Texas is rate relief for Texans who have been overcharged for their homeowners insurance policies." With Texas facing a budget shortfall of $5 billion to $12 billion during the two-year cycle that begins in September, business interests and conservative organizations hailed Perry's pledge to hold the line on state spending and new taxes. That pledge was echoed by Dewhurst and state Rep. Tom Craddick of Midland, who will be Texas' first Republican House speaker in more than a century. "Thank God for Tom Craddick for saying new taxes are off the table and everything else is on the table," said Peggy Venable, director of Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy. "Our members want smaller government; they want government to do less, not more. And I think that's what the voters want, too. I think that's what they were saying on Tuesday." But some from the other side of the political spectrum warned the winners not to read too much into the election returns. Samantha Smoot, who heads the Texas Freedom Network, said voters embraced the GOP because the candidates preached from a moderate platform. The party's statewide candidates were careful to steer clear of issues such as limiting reproductive choice and offering tax-dollar vouchers to send children to private schools, Smoot said. The Republicans would be wise not to raise them during the upcoming legislative session, she said. "These candidates went out of their way to avoid talking about issues like school vouchers and other pet causes of the far right wing," Smoot said. "If they now go and try to pretend that there was some sort of mandate to put those issues forward, I think that would be very deceptive." Perry said lawmakers have no reason to shy away from a "limited" voucher bill, saying the Republicans' support for such a measure is well documented. Dewhurst, who also supports vouchers, said it was doubtful that time will be available in the 140-day session to get to vouchers. Surviving Democratic lawmakers, meanwhile, are assessing the shelling that their party endured on Election Day and will probably be on the defensive. "There are very few silver linings on our side," said state Sen. Mario Gallegos, D-Houston. "We took a pretty big hit, and there's no way to sugar-coat it." Having spent the past six years on the minority in the Senate, Gallegos and other Democrats have grown adept at using rules and parliamentary procedures to protect their turf. A key Senate rule -- one that requires the agreement of 21 of the 31 senators for a floor debate on any bill -- has traditionally kept that chamber in the political center. However, with Republicans now holding 19 Senate seats, a push to change the rules and allow bills to come to the floor with a simple majority vote is possible. "It's still real early in the process to know whether anyone is going to want to change the rules," Gallegos said. "I still haven't met a lot of the new senators yet. I plan to sit down with the lieutenant governor-elect [who presides over the Senate]. And I guess the Democratic caucus will want to meet to see what our agenda is going to be." Most observers said that solving the budget will consume much of the session. Some also said that the first programs targeted for cuts would be those benefiting low-income Texans because several of the lawmakers who championed such initiatives will be leaving. Gone are state Sen. Mike Moncrief, D-Fort Worth, chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, and state Rep. Patricia Gray, D-Galveston, the House Public Health Committee chairwoman. Both declined to seek re-election because their districts were redrawn with less friendly constituencies. "Some of the health programs could be in jeopardy," said Kronberg, the Quorum Report publisher. "You might see some rollback [in the Children's Health Insurance Program] and cuts in the discretionary Medicaid funding." F. Scott McCown, who heads the Center for Public Policy Priorities, said there will be a fight over those cuts. "It will be our mission to protect the Children's Health Insurance Program, Medicaid and Child Protective Services," McCown said. Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander, a Republican who chalked up the largest majority of any statewide candidate, said the left-leaning organization will have her as an ally in that cause. "I am identifying ways we can deliver health care to our uninsured and underinsured more efficiently and with less money so that no child should have to do without," said Rylander, the state's top budget officer. Consultant Chuck McDonald, who was press secretary under Democratic Gov. Ann Richards and now represents several business organizations, predicted that the Republicans will use their newfound clout in Austin wisely. "I think the Texas Republicans will continue the tradition of bipartisanship in the Legislature," McDonald said. "People who are expecting a real one-sided agenda are going to be disappointed. I think the Republicans are capable of governing." Key legislative issues * Homeowners insurance -- Observers and players agree that voters expect action to reduce spiraling homeowners insurance rates. Gov. Rick Perry has designated the issue a legislative emergency, meaning that it will be tackled early and that a bill could go into law immediately after the governor signs it. Key players: State Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo, who has called for a special session on homeowners insurance, and state Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Marble Falls, who led a legislative committee that spent the past year studying the issue. * Budget shortfall -- The state budget is shaping up as an issue that could dominate the agenda. The official estimate is that lawmakers will face a $5 billion shortfall for 2004-05; some say it could reach $12 billion. Key players: Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander, who is charged with making the official revenue estimate and who must certify the budget before it can take effect; and the chairmen of the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, who have not yet been named. * Social programs -- Health and human-service programs are called "budget drivers" because they eat up a giant share of the state's revenue. Pressure will be tremendous to contain these costs and not to slash social services.

11/11/2002
Congress Should Move On Economy
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Press Release

Congress Should Move On Economy

© 2002 Copley News Service, 11/8/2002 Something is seriously out of kilter when The New York Times can report, as it did on Sunday: "Stocks thrive on downbeat economic news." Bad news is good, and the worse things get, the more optimistic investors seem to become.

11/08/2002
Election 2002 Round up
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Press Release

Election 2002 Round up

Click the following links for information on these states:North Carolina PennsylvaniaNew Hampshire

11/08/2002
CSE Grassroots Makes National News
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Press Release

CSE Grassroots Makes National News

One of the most successful citizen lobby efforts is what likely Texas House Education Chairman called the CSE textbook review process. Rep. Kent Grusendorf is expected to chair the state House education committee next session, but started his career as a citizen who got upset at some anti-free market material in textbooks. He soon found himself on the State Board of Education and then the Texas House of Representatives.

11/08/2002
CSE Mobilizes Voters in North Carolina
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Press Release

CSE Mobilizes Voters in North Carolina

< table width="489" border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="5" align="center"> Photo from the Raleigh News & Observer. < p> CSE has mailed out this informativ

11/07/2002
CSE Mobilizes Voters in Pennsylvania
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Press Release

CSE Mobilizes Voters in Pennsylvania

CSE placed 1500 signs in Toomey's district. CSE also made thousands of calls to voters in Toomey's district.

11/06/2002
Washington State Election Update
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Press Release

Washington State Election Update

Washington CSE reached out to over 40,000 voters in six targeted legislative districts during this election cycle. We educated voters regarding candidates' positions on economic issues such as taxes and jobs. CSE's election information was especially important for independent voters who are concerned about our state's economic climate.

11/06/2002
CSE in the Trenches, Reaching 1.7 Million Voters
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Press Release

CSE in the Trenches, Reaching 1.7 Million Voters

As voters went to the polls in ten battleground states yesterday, it was likely they had heard from Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE). That’s because CSE ran a massive voter education and “Get Out the Vote” drive to educate and mobilize voters on the important issues: Social Security reform, scraping the tax code, legal reform, and energy security.

11/06/2002
Bush’s Real Election Gamble: Tax Cuts and Social Security Reform
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Press Release

Bush’s Real Election Gamble: Tax Cuts and Social Security Reform

The liberal media would have you believe that this election was about anything but the issues. They’re characterizing it only in personal terms, as a win for President Bush.

11/06/2002

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