House Speaker Gib Lewis the. House Ways and Means Committee except as a minority report because Stan Schlueter is its chair and Republicans are in the majority. That’s the problem: in his effort to run Republicanism through the House under the guise of centrism, Lewis has loaded key committees with Republicans and Republicans in Democratic clothing. This inevitably thwarts any true Democratic initiative. Key committees, such as Appropriations, Ways and Means, and Calendars are run by Tory Democrats or Republicans. If Mark White is able to pull his tax bill through this morass, it will be much to his credit and to that of Bill Hobby and loyalist Democrats. At the same time, because of the way Lewis has structured the House leadership, the true Democrats must operate as a loyal opposition and from that position try to lead their own party. \(Imagine what life in a Gib Lewis House will 28 House members filed a bill that would institute White’s proposed temporary sales tax increase. Most of the members of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus were among the sponsors of the legislation. Caucus Chairman Al Luna, DHouston, announced the filing of the bill at a capitol press conference in which he introduced himself as chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, to which some of his colleagues yelled “former.” “Now that we’ve set the tone,” Luna said before answering questions, adding later, “We’re making a statement to the Speaker. We’re saying that \\\\\\ Atlinffm”’ / “. 4N we’re not in agreement with his leadership of the House right now.” The day before, Luna had issued a lengthy memorandum to debunk the notion that Texas has experienced a cycle of unprecedented and unjustifiable growth in government. According to the memorandum, the 300 percent growth in the state budget since 1974, when adjusted for inflation and population growth, comes to a 1.8 percent yearly increase in real dollars. This has meant that real investment in colleges and universities has not increased since 1974. State spending on human services has decreased. Highway spending has stayed even. There is more spending on public education. And spending on prisons, most of it court-ordered, has more than doubled. This is not government spending run wild. Rep. Juan Hinojosa, another sponsor of the tax bill, has pointed out that the state has provided less than 25 percent of the annual operating budgets of family violence shelters, from which 22,000 Texans were turned away in 1985 for lack of space. Only slightly more than one quarter of the state’s children living in poverty receive Aid to Families with Dependent Children. And the $57 per month payment buys less than the $31 the state provided in 1971. At the press conference, Hinojosa said the Speaker had been given his chance during the August special session and now it was time for some of the members to take the lead. Meanwhile, the poor get poorer. The unemployed become more desperate. If spending for state services has been just staying even with the spending of twelve years ago, given the sorry state of this state’s spending on social services and education, you know what we are providing is hopelessly inadequate compared to the need. And if the state is hurting financially, think how much more individual families are hurting who do not come close to qualifying for assistance under our state’s current penurious method of operation. But before we can address such issues, before we can start to talk about increasing services to help Texas residents through hard times, we must restructure the Texas House to serve the Democratic majority, the only possible source of needed social reform. The House Democratic Caucus should assert itself. Lewis should either pledge himself to serve the Democratic majority more readily or expect to find himself in a speakership race. There is little point in having a Democratic majority if Republicanism, under the guise of centrism, rules the day. While the Republicans just sit on their hands, the bankruptcy of the Tory Democrats is everywhere evident, as in the constitutional amendment introduced by Schlueter to create a rainy day fund by dedicating portions of budget surpluses and money garnered from oil taxes when oil prices rise to more than $15 a barrel. “They’re locking away more money from people’s programs,” said Juan Hinojosa. “Here we don’t have money to buy groceries and we’re going to open up a savings account. It gives you an insight into their mentality. Here we are in a budget crisis, and instead of finding ways of dealing with it, they come up with legislation to tie our hands tighter.” All the while, the crickets and the needs of the citizens of this state keep piling up at the capitol doors. G.R. 4 SEPTEMBER 26, 1986
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