office . . . I think we can do better. For example the pension funds in Texas are earning an average of over 10 percent annual yield. The treasurer, 7.8 percent. Now, obviously there’re two different kind of systems. And part of the problem that you have with the treasury is that it is very restricted in how you can invest that money. But, for example, I think we could . . . we could get the treasury, we could get the Legislature to pass a bill that would allow us, let’ s ,say, to take 10 percent of all the money . . . let’s say 10 percent of those funds, and invest them in instruments that are higher-yielding, like blue-chip stocks, for example, that have a higher rate of return. Granted, they’re more risky. But I think we’re sophisticated enough in this day and age that we can determine which are the ones that we need to stay out of and which are the ones that are pretty darn stable and have been stable for quite some time. So that’s something again that the depositing authority of the state can do as well. I think ultimately that the most critical issue for the state treasurer’s office in this particular election and at this time becomes a question of generating revenue for the state of Texas. You know, we’re in an economic crunch. We obviously are having real problems that we’ve got a lot of demands being made as far as school finance, road construction, infrastructure, and so on. And our problem of course is that we are not generating enough new revenue to be able to handle those things . . . Jim Mattox proposes a lottery, for example, to try to make up some of that gap. Bill Hobby [is] arguing to have an income tax. Well, I mean, I think that, before we determine that, what we have to do is to see where are the other areas where we can generate revenue for the state of Texas. And particularly generate revenue that to some extent we can make stable. For example, oil and gas. Well, you know, obviously Clayton Williams is running a campaign where he’s trying to hearken back to the days when oil and gas was kind of the base of the Texas economy. We didn’t need anything else, because we got so much money from that. We know that those days are over. But that doesn’t mean that we have to abandon the oil and gas industry. For example, if we formed a consortium between oil-producing states in this country and oil-producing nations in this hemisphere, which I think we can do I think that the nations of this hemisphere which produce oil are predisposed towards doing that and we form that kind of a consortium and we put a floor beneath which the price ofoil will not fall. You well, one, you break your dependence on Middle-Eastern oil. Number two, you can stabilize the price to where you at least know that it’s going to never fall below X price. And therefore, you at least know how much money you’re going to be able to generate in revenue from that particular source. And you can then do some long-range planning. If you get more, fine. But at least you know how much you’re going to get as a base. That’s what we don’t have right now. Isn’t . . . that a legislative or a Sure it is. Sure it is. Sure it is. But that doesn’t mean that it cannot be proposed, that it cannot be, that some of the leadership cannot be provided. And the issue is not where it falls, but to me anyway, where it falls in specific job description. As a case in point: you know Ann Richards, the reason she_’s in a position to run for governor, to run a strong race for governor, isn’t because of the job she did as the treasurer, in terms of the specific job description. I mean don’t get me wrong; if she’d have done a lousy job, she wouldn’t be able to run for governor. I’m not saying that. She’s done a good job. I think everybody agrees to that. But the reason that she’s able to run for governor is because she has done other things, too. She’s provided leadership in some other areas whether “I think public officials have an obligation to shed , light in dark places.” it’s on women’s issues or different kinds of questions,’ she’s been up there. .. . Now I’m not saying that we’re going to start doing other things under the treasurer’s office, what I am saying is, if you see a need, you have an obligation to provide leadership in that area. But you know another area, for example export. In Texas we earn $26 million a year in export income. Yet only 20 percent of all firms that produce goods or services that are exportable participate in export. So we’re making $26 million a year with only 20 percent of our players do the field. Now, that’s, that comes under the Department of Commerce, comes under the governor’s office. Obviously, we haven’t had the kind of leadership there. What you have is that there’s a lot of people out there, small business people, who produce goods and services that are exportable, but you know they don’t have the expertise, they don’t have the contacts, they don’t have the knowledge of how you export, how you get into that business. There’s no reason why the treasurer’s office can’t pull together. for example, bankers, people from the private industry, people from Department of Commerce, people from the governor’s office, and provide the leadership . . . So this isthe model that you’re describ ing ihg something akin to the Jim Hightower model at the TDA. Yeah, I think so. Right. He’s the only one that I know in any of the agencies in government that have begun to do that. To, you know, look beyond just our own borders. Unfortunately, as Texans, historically, have had somewhat of an insular view, and we could because, again, we were basically independent of everybody else. I mean we were generating enough revenues here that we said, “Well we don’t care about the rest of the world out there.” We’re no longer there. We obviously have to diversify our economy. And part of what this office does is it gives you a platform to argue the case for those kinds of issues. They’re important I think, for the future of Texas .. . Well I think public officials have an obligation to shed light in dark places and part of what we want to do is to be able to educate folks and get them, make them knowledgeable about some of these things. And again that’s where this kind of an office gives you, that kind of a platform to do that. Additionally, I think that one of the one of the situations that I face in the Hispanic community, which is my base, is that . . . we still feel very marginalized in the political process. And it shows in the numbers. For example, in Texas, it takes 180 eligible white voters to make 100 votes. It takes` 210 eligible black voters to make 100 votes. It take 300 eligible Hispanics to make 100 votes. You know, so even still in my community, after 20, 25 years of Willie Velasquez and the Southwest Voter Registration Project, all these projects to register voters and they did a great job we still have this huge gap between our potential as a population and what we’re actually doing. Now for a long time of course, a lot of folks didn’t really care much about that because the Derriocratic Party was basically hegemonic in the state and you know, it was like, well, who cares, we’re winning all the elections anyway. Well, you know, that state has now become a twoparty state. Republicans are extremely competitive, particularly of course at the statewide level. I think that those of us who are Hispanic and those of us who are Democrats, one of our obligations is to try to reach out to people who again have been marginalized, who have felt no reason to be involved, who have not been inspired to be involved. And part of the reason for that is because we have not had people running at a statewide level, at a highly visible level that would compel people to get registered and to go out to vote. . . .You know, we know. for example, in the upcoming primary. Hispanics are going to be somewhere between 25 and 30 percent of the vote. Now that’s good for. me. We know that blacks are going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of] 5 percent of the vote. And of course, because of my work in the THE TEXAS OBSERVER
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