Page 17


CONTENTS FEATURES 1 Public Housing and the Legacy of Segregation 2 Stand Up to the Governor 4 Sports Rap 9 To Reap What You Sew 11 Workers of the World .. . 14 Jackson and “the Necessities” 16 Urinalysis or Your Job 17 Women and the Peace Movement Louis Dubose Dave Denison Dave DenisOn Bill Adler Fred Schmidt Geoffrey Rips Louis Dubose Betty Brink DEPARTMENTS 5 Dialogue 18 Political Intelligence 22 Social Cause Calendar Books and the Culture: 19 On the Road for Human Rights Afterword: 23 Dobie’s Garden Judith Paterson Yvonne B. Estes for all kinds of garbage to rush in. In such a situation there is no telling what kind of “solutions” may emerge. “There is no group, however small it may be, proposing an alternative to the present situation,” says Rep. Juan Hinojosa, the progressive Democrat from McAllen. “We are in disarray,” he says. Hinojosa sees a void not only at the leadership level in the House but in the minority caucuses, which he says ought to serve as the “conscience of the House.” Certainly there is nothing resembling the kind of insurgency there was among liberal Democrats in the 1970s before John Bryant went on to Congress. One liberal House member argues that different times require different strategies instead of trying to buck an iron-fisted Speaker, progressives find themselves trying to build big enough coalitions to get bills passed. Gib Lewis is not the kind of Speaker Billy Clayton was, this member notes, and so there is no place for an insurgent liberal force. But without a progressive bloc getting out front on the issues, who will alter the terms of the debate? Who will introduce ideas into the discussion that beg to be introduced? “Something’s missing,” says Rep. Hinojosa. It’s as if the ship is lost at sea and the liberals are up on the lounge deck watching in dismay with everyone else. Rep. Al Luna, the Houston Democrat who now chairs the Mexican American Caucus, disagrees. He attributes the legislative stalemate to factors far beyond liberals’ control. At the behest of Lt. Gov. Hobby and Comptroller Bob Bullock, he carried a bill that would expand the sales tax base to include all of his caucus members supported it Rep. Alex Moreno, for one, thinks expanding the sales tax would hurt the service sector of the economy. The bill ended up stalled in committee for the entire session. “I probably could have gotten my tax bill out of the Ways and Means committee,” Luna says, “but without the Speaker out here twisting arms and getting some of the conservative [Democratic] members to go along, we wouldn’t have passed it and we would have been set up for failure.” Rep. Lloyd Criss, the workhorse Democrat from La Marque, expresses a similar reluctance to invest his time in matters of taxation. “The corporate profits tax is my favorite,” says Criss, but pointing to a long list of bills he passed this session, bills which he says will make a real difference in the lives of working people, he asks: Why put effort into bills with no chance of passing? The tax-writing Ways and Means committee is headed by Stan Schlueter, who carried a constitutional amendment that would have banned corporate and personal income taxes. “The time is coming” for something like a corporate tax he says, “and when the time is right, we’ll know.” Both Luna and Hinojosa say they will be more aggressive in the special session in pushing to expand the sales tax base. But in the last days of the regular session both Gov. Clements and Speaker Lewis said that the short session is not the time to undertake such a large change in the tax code. Clements, of course, will continue to insist on a permanent extension of the sales tax to 5.25 percent and a 15 cent motor fuels budget cuts to make up the rest of the deficit. But if the sales tax is not expanded there is little left to do but raise it even higher than 5.25 percent, something urban representatives such as Al Luna \(whose cities already tack on extra pennies to The sales tax is the alternative that tends to get sucked into the vacuum that is created when progressives withdraw Sen. Craig Washington at ten minutes past midnight Pho to by Alan Pog ue THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3