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y but not Narrow Pick up your FREE copy at over 200 locations in Austin & Houston. For further information call 512.476.0576 or 713.521.5822 be an open invitation to welfare profiteering, poor service, and “outright corruption” on the part of private companies. Robert Fersh of the Food Research & Action Center, a non-profit legal advocacy group which focuses on welfare issues, warned Erskine Bowles that privatization and computerization of Food Stamp programs “could make it very difficult, if not impossible, for many needy people to apply for benefits.” It remains uncertain to what extent the Clinton administration which approved the Republican-drafted “welfare reform” legislation just prior to last November’s electionis willing to listen to the unions and their supporters. According to CWA’s Goldman, it appears that the administration “wants to give states flexibility” in welfare reform, but “they’re caught in real policy questions” about the Texas TIES program, as currently drafted. “The new federal welfare law,” said Goldman, “says all discretionary activities must be done by merit system employees. The Congress had a chance to [delete those provisions] but they did not. So the TIES program raises real problems for any federal waiver: legal problems, policy problems, and political problems.” Back in Austin, TIES may face additional hurdles. Houston Representative Garnet Coleman, author of the 1995 Texas welfare legislation which created TIES, has said that what ever decision comes out of the Clinton administration, the Legislature needs to revisit TIES and scale it back to the more limited intent of the ’95 legislation \(see “The Legislature Has a Role,” Observer, D.C. was having any effect, Coleman smiled broadly and answered, “Don’t expect a waiver anytime soon.” Coleman argued that even if TIES is implemented in some form, the large initial expense means it will be several years before any savings are realized, and the state needs to be absolutely certain it will get a good return on its expenditures, estimated to be as much as $2-3 billion. In response to the Governor’s reiterated impatience, Coleman added, “There’s no urgency whatsoever to issuing a waiver. This is a five-year process, and there’s no urgency [to act] if the process is wrong.” Coleman has proposed one of several bills intended either to limit the TIES program or to provide more direct legislative oversight. Similar bills are sponsored by Austin Representatives Elliott Naishtat and Glenn Maxeysignificantly, they have already garnered support from the House leadership. Speaker Pete Laney has spoken out on the need to revisit the issue of privatization, and Rob Junell, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, is Naishtat told the Observer that in Washington, “TIES is out of Shalala’s hands,” and that he believes that in Austin, the state’s Democratic leadership will defend jobs and social services in Texas. “We’re going to scale back the TIES process to its original intention,” said Naishtat, “an automation of some services, not wholesale privatization. And we’re going to protect the jobs of thousands of state employees, who have been dedicated employees, the workhorses of social services.” There remains yet another voice to be heard on TIES. Last fall TSEU and Public Citizen charged that several former state officials now working for private companies with an interest in TIES had violated the state’s “revolving door” and conflict-of-interest laws, and they called for an investigation. The Travis County Attorney’s office is expected to issue its report on its joint investigation with the District Attorney’s office, said a spokesman, “soon.” In the phrase of the Governor, in Texas . we take people at their word. It remains to be seen, however, precisely who speaks for Texas. “For Sale,” from p. 5 et al. and used it to trounce Republican challenger Jerry Moon by a 64-to-36 margin. Dan Kubiak, a Rockdale Democrat who served in the House from 1969-83, then returned in 1991, used $12,000 in Republican funding to defeat challenger James Hartley by a 60-to-40 percent margin. Keith Oakley probably needed the $10,000 provided by the tort-reform PAC to defeat Republican challenger Betty Brown by a 53to-47-percent spread. And the two most powerful Democrats in the House, Speaker Pete Laney and Calendars Committee Chair Mark Stiles, would have done just as well without the courtesy checks \($5,000 and Reform. Two thousand five hundred for Rob Junell, who last year raised more than $150,000 and faced no opponent, was pocket change for the Appropriations Com mittee chair, who carries two or three tort reform bills each session, anyway. \(Junell himself gave $1,000 to Republican Add to the above totals $7,000 to keep East Texas Democrat Ron Lewis bought, $5,000 for El Paso freshman Norma Chavez, and additional contributions scattered around the Mexican-American and Black Caucuses \($4,000 for Diana Davila of Houston and $2,500 for Dallas freshman like a 76-in-97 legislative. tacticrather than the electoral promise that 76 in 96 and Associated Republicans failed to deliver last year. Some of the tort reform bills filed this session will make it through Patricia Gray’s House Committee on Civil Practices and onto the floorwhere Republican investors will be expecting some tangible returns on their Democratic investments. Mr 1 i ill IT*’:::”g14 41.1.11411111.1111.1.”‘r Saltee zw *OW:A itAirAWCtigft Si .1.:ofs. .w.Vega.*.ageou.:1.4.braragitlAivo, ,;g1Afg.A7:: .-~00`44 APRIL 25, 1997 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7