1. Just a Few Good Reasons For More Education Funding in Texas Dance Fever Billy Clemons, D-Pollok, proposed cutting the budget of the Texas Commission on the Arts and putting the money in the Texas Forest Service. He was opposed by Eddie Cavazos, D-Corpus Christi, of the House Committee on Cultural and Historical Resources, who said the arts commission needed all the money it could get because “our chairman Ralph Wallace had this idea that we sell a bunch of junk for the sesquicentennial [with money going to the arts commission], and we lost $3 million.” Foster Whaley came to Clemons’s defense. “Are you aware of what the [arts] money goes for?” he warned members. “Grants for local ballets.” Landlord Bailout Amendment Meanwhile, Bill Blanton, R-Carrollton, was worried about the effect of budget cuts on the state’s economy. He proposed an amendment to the budget bill which would pay two months’ rent on branch offices the state Comptroller’s office closed in recent months. “How about provisions for the 136 laid-off employees?” asked Orlando Garcia, D-San Antonio. One Hell of a Problem Arguing against further sales tax money to support Houston’s “Cadillac bus system,” Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, said, “And don’t tell me that you need the money . . . All of us know that God doesn’t have enough money to solve totally the transportation problems of Harris County.” We Had to Kill the Tax to Save It A favorite sport among conservatives in all sessions of the legislature is to try to pass a constitutional ban on income taxes in Texas. But this session they were joined by Sen. Hugh Parmer, a normally progressive Democrat from Fort Worth. Parmer told Austin American-Statesman reporter Dave McNeely he was carrying the tax ban in the Senate because he was afraid if the legislature ever did pass an income tax it would not be structured in a fair manner. “The special interests are so strong in the Texas legislature that nothing other than a regressive tax can come out,” he said. Holy Cow! That’s a Big Noisy Rock Speaker of the House Gibson D. “Gib” Lewis, in a letter to the state’s daily newspapers: “The editorial response to the very first rock I turned over exposing a sacred cow has raised such a din of alarm that effective public debate can now scarcely by heard.” In the “Ayes” of the Beholder The Gibber is by now legendary for his gaffes. His twisted tongue sometimes required that House members pay very close attention when voting. After debate to change the language that will appear on the constitutional amendment to allow branch banking in Texas, the Speaker said, “All those in favor signify by raising their right hand.” He scanned the floor. Calling for the negative vote, the Speaker proceeded with “All those in favor signify by no?” Very few no’s were registered, and the ayes had it. After the debate on parimutuel betting on horseracing, the Speaker advised, “Signify by aye when your name is called, and those no when their name is called also.” Good for Their Health In a major spending reduction bill, Rep. Bill Ceverha, R-Dallas, proposed an amendment to the budget bill, which passed, to prohibit the distribution of free tobacco to TDC inmates. One lobbyist dubbed it the “Prison Riot Amendment.” Next Question During a press conference held at the beginning of the August special session, Governor Mark White told reporters that he’d been talking to people around the state about various tax options. He said that he’d talked to an unemployed worker who told him that there should be no state income tax. “I said, ‘How about a sales tax increase?’ ” White said. “He said that’d be okay.” To which, Arnold Hamilton, then of the Dallas Times-Herald, asked, “So people with no income don’t want to see an income tax?” Child Care Abuse In a statement delivered to the Senate in August, J. Livingston Kosberg, Department of Human Services chairman, warned that proposed cuts in his department’s appropriation would eliminate 13 day-care licensing workers and 31 child abuse workers. Sen. John Leedom, Republican of Dallas, retorted that his concern lies with the private sector that deals with child care. The way the state government goes about “enforcing the OCTOBER 10, 1986
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