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Some Doubt Governor's Resolve
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Some Doubt Governor's Resolve

BY W. Gardner Selby

AUSTIN - Within 30 days, Texans will know if Republican leaders are sticking to budget-cutting plans or bending to pressure for increased taxes, a GOP leader said Tuesday. "Within the next month, we'll have a sense as to whether we have people bolting or not," said Rep. Talmadge Heflin of Houston, chairman of the budget-drafting House Appropriations Committee. "The ones that fold will have to be the leadership-the speaker, the lieutenant governor, the governor," Heflin said, referring to House Speaker Tom Craddick, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Gov. Rick Perry. "If heat comes on them to where they say, you know, we can't do this, then we're screwed," Heflin said, adding he expects the leadership to stick together and "get the job done." Republican leaders have vowed to achieve a 2004-05 budget that absorbs a projected revenue shortfall of $9.9 billion without requiring additional taxes, possibly spending less than the $117 billion earmarked in the 2002-03 budget that runs through August. In his State of the State address Tuesday, Perry gave no indication of giving ground, saying voters "elected us to set priorities, not to raise the price of government," adding: "My friends, it can be done. We can balance our budget without raising taxes." Dewhurst, informed of Heflin's comments, said: "If we stand together, Democrats and Republicans alike, we can balance the budget without new taxes." Craddick, R-Midland, said: "I'm not bolting." "The three of us will stay together all the way through," Craddick said. "I don't think there's any doubt about that." Heflin supports a proposal to abolish the state's share-the-wealth public school funding system by 2005. He wants immediate research into overhauling the tax system so the 2005 Legislature can consider ideas like replacing property and franchise taxes with an expanded state sales tax. In early April, the House likely will take up a draft of the budget recommended by his committee, Heflin said. If approved, it will head to the Senate, whose members will probably substitute their own version and clear the way for House-Senate negotiations before the session ends June 2. Heflin on Tuesday asked the Texas Association of School Boards to support a lean budget along with his desire to overhaul school funding and taxes in 2005. "I'm asking that you partner with us to do that," he said. John McInnis, an Arlington school board member and past president of TASB, later objected. Describing himself as a moderate Republican, McInnis said: "If they're not going to come up with new resources to pay the bills, my question is: Who cuts where?" "They're going to bolt," McInnis predicted of the GOP leaders. "They simply have to. It's going to be an interesting rhetorical dilemma for the governor to wade out of." Peggy Venable, state director of Citizens for a Sound Economy, disagreed, saying taxpayers will need to remind the leaders that they are spending taxpayer dollars and not money that belongs to government. "Chairman Heflin is absolutely right," Venable said. "They are going to have to be steadfast in their focus on cutting spending and addressing the needs of Texas." The Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities, which advocates for programs serving poor Texans, noted Tuesday that health, education and criminal justice agencies are being asked to chop more than $4.5 billion from their budgets before taking them to legislative budget-drafting panels. Scott McCown, the center's executive director, called Heflin's comments "the best news I've had all day." "When fellows start telling you that they're not going to bolt, that means people have been talking to them about the desperate need to raise revenue," McCown said. "A lot of people are using their access to leadership with a private message that this is going to be devastating to balance the budget without additional revenue." "That means he's having to keep an eye on them, that things are happening," McCown said.

02/12/2003
The President's Recipe to Cook Up More Capital
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Press Release

The President's Recipe to Cook Up More Capital

© 2002 Copley News Service, 2/11/2003 For every rule, there is an exception that proves it. "There's no such thing as a free lunch" is a good example. There is a "free lunch" when you discover that its makings are already bought and paid for but foolishly wasted or spoiled before they can be combined into a nourishing meal. If you change whatever is causing the waste and spoilage, presto, you've got a free lunch.

02/11/2003
Governor Rick Perry’s State of the State Speech
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Press Release

Governor Rick Perry’s State of the State Speech

Governor Perry demonstrated strong leadership by showing we can balance our budget without raising taxes. He indicated his desire to work with the legislature to achieve that goal, and we stand ready to work with him to limit government. Since 1990, the Texas population has grown by 27 percent and inflation has increased 37 percent. Yet during that same time period, the state's budget increased 125 percent and state spending on Medicaid jumped 400 percent. In 2001, the Legislature increased spending on health and human services programs by $4 billion.

02/11/2003
Elizabeth Bookspan is the CSE Minuteman of the Month!
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Press Release

Elizabeth Bookspan is the CSE Minuteman of the Month!

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02/11/2003
Texas Lt Gov Dewhurst Takes Appropriate Action on Water Issue
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Press Release

Texas Lt Gov Dewhurst Takes Appropriate Action on Water Issue

Water rights have been important in Texas and are becoming more important as water will likely spark today’s version of the Sagebrush Rebellion. Lt. Gov David Dewhurst has asked the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to defer action on a major water permit application until the Legislature has an opportunity to clarify the Commission's authority to issue such a permit under Texas water appropriations laws.

02/11/2003
Texas Governor Spoke to All Taxpayers In His State of the State Speech
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Press Release

Texas Governor Spoke to All Taxpayers In His State of the State Speech

Today Governor Rick Perry put a face on the Texas taxpayer. In his State of the State speech at the Capitol today, Gov. Perry gave Texas taxpayers the message they wanted to hear. With talk of a looming $9.9 billion state budget shortfall, Gov. Perry vowed not to raise taxes. Gov. Perry talked to families when he vowed to set spending priorities and live within the available funds, just as families are doing.

02/11/2003
Don't Play Politics with Judicial Nominees
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Press Release

Don't Play Politics with Judicial Nominees

Dear Senator: I write in regard to the continuing debate surrounding President Bush’s judicial nominee, Miguel Estrada. On behalf Citizens for a Sound Economy and our 280,000 members, I urge you to confirm Miguel Estrada to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Mr. Estrada’s illustrious academic career, his subsequent employment as a U.S. Attorney and Assistant U.S. Solicitor General, and his distinguished record and accomplishments in private practice qualify him for the vacant appellate court position.

02/10/2003
Odom proposes capital L
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Odom proposes capital L

BY J. Andrew Curliss, Sarah Lindenfeld Hall

After the convention center study committee narrowed its picks Wednesday for a new center's location to three downtown Raleigh sites, a good number of people hung around and studied a large map of the central city. They mulled the choices. Tossed around some ideas. Then City Council member John Odom separated the crowd and took over. He wasn't in favor of the third site choice, a large tract on the western edge of downtown next to some railroad tracks in a warehouse district. The other two still in the mix -- both just west of the existing center -- were fine. But Odom wants something creative. Maybe it would be good to fashion some combination of the two sites to the west into a third choice, he said. Raleigh does not need a long box of a convention center. Something L-shaped would work, he told the gathering. Ed Jones, a businessman and member of the study committee, was listening and nodding. "Yeah, John, you want something big and different," Jones said. "Like the Sydney Opera House." Odom responded: "I've never seen the Sydney Opera House. But if it's L-shaped, then I'm for it." SPEAKING OF ODOM: Count Bruce Spader as another candidate running to replace Odom, who has served on the council for a decade. Spader ran against Odom for the District B seat in 2001, winning nearly 23 percent of the vote. Since then, Spader has been appointed to city committees. Spader, a leader in the Brentwood neighborhood, said he plans to run a grass-roots campaign. "I am going to put the question to the active voters in District B whether or not they want me sitting down there or not," he said. John Knox, a former interim police chief; Jessie Taliaferro, a Planning Commission member; and Jeff Perkinson, a member of a city committee working to create a land-use plan for a section of Five Points, also have said they are considering a run for the seat, which represents an area that stretches from neighborhoods inside Raleigh's Beltline to Northeast Raleigh. Voters go to the polls Oct. 7. POLITICAL TRAIL - ROY COOPER, North Carolina's attorney general, is scheduled to speak to the Wake County Democratic Men at 6 p.m. Monday at Griffin's Restaurant, 1604 N. Market Drive in Raleigh. - DONNIE HARRISON, the new Wake County sheriff, will speak to Wake County Young Republicans at 7 p.m. Monday at Greenshields Brewery & Pub, 214 E. Martin St. in downtown Raleigh. - DAN GERLACH, Gov. Mike Easley's senior policy adviser for fiscal affairs, will speak about the budget situation to the Wake County chapter of Citizens for a Sound Economy at 7 p.m. Thursday at N.C. State University's Jane S. McKimmon Center, corner of Western Boulevard and Gorman Street.

02/08/2003
Oklahoma CSE to Stage "Honk for a Better Way!" Protest
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Press Release

Oklahoma CSE to Stage "Honk for a Better Way!" Protest

On February 12, more than 10,000 members of Oklahoma Teacher¡¦s Unions will take a paid vacation day to lobby members of the Oklahoma legislature for a one-cent sales tax increase. Member organizations of the "Save Our Schools" coalition (which includes the O.E.A.) claim that the only way to help what they call the "school funding crisis" is with a tax increase. CSE says that claim is wrong. A sales tax increase merely throws more money into a failing public school monopoly.

02/07/2003
Taxes: Business Groups Push For Bush's Tax Cut On Dividends
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Taxes: Business Groups Push For Bush's Tax Cut On Dividends

Top business groups are launching a new effort to secure passage of President Bush's plan to eliminate individual taxation on stock dividends, CongressDaily reports. The Tax Relief Coalition (TRC), the Business Roundtable and Citizens for a Sound Economy will co-chair the new TRC Committee for Dividend Benefits. The dividend proposal is the centerpiece of Bush's $695 billion economic growth package. But the plan has drawn questions even from moderate lawmakers of both parties, who are concerned about the overall price tag of the package. The new TRC committee held its first meeting on Thursday. The committee plans an extensive effort that will include public outreach, the generation of economic studies, forums for discussing the dividend plan and advertising, according to a statement.

02/07/2003

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