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VOLUME 91, NO. 12 A JOURNAL OF FREE VOICES SINCE 1954 Editors: Louis Dubose, Michael King Assistant Editor: Mimi Bardagjy Associate Editor: Karen Olsson Office Manager: Ayelet Hines Production: Harrison Saunders Poetry Editor: Naomi Shihab Nye Staff Writer: Nate Blakeslee Special Projects: Jere Locke, Nancy Williams Webmaster: Mike Smith Intern: Julie Hollar, Carol Huggins Contributing Writers: Barbara Belejack, Robert Bryce, James K. Galbraith, Dagoberto Gilb, Paul Jennings, Steven G. Kellman, Char Miller, Debbie Nathan, John Ross. Staff Photographer: Alan Pogue Contributing Photographers: Jana Birchum, Vic Hinterlang, Patricia Moore, Jack Rehm. Contributing Artists: Jeff Danziger, Beth Epstein, Valerie Fowler, Sam Hurt, Kevin Kreneck, Michael Krone, Ben Sargent, Gail Woods. Editorial Advisory Board: David Anderson, Chandler Davidson, Dave Denison, Bob Eckhardt, Sissy Farenthold, John Kenneth Galbraith, Lawrence Goodwyn, Jim Hightower, Maury Maverick Jr., Kaye Northcott, Susan Reid. In Memoriam: Cl iff Olofson, 1931-1995 Texas Democracy Foundation Board: Ronnie Dugger, Liz Faulk, D’Ann Johnson Geoffrey Rips, Gilberto Ocatias. The Texas Observer \(ISSN 0040righted, 1999, is published biweekly except for a four-week interval between issues in January and July \(24 issues per 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. Telephone: E-mail: [email protected] World Wide Web DownHome page: . Periodicals Postage Paid at Austin, Texas. Subscriptions: One year $32, two years $59, three years $84. Full-time students $18 per year; add $13/year for foreign subs. Back issues $3 prepaid. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Indexes: The Texas Observer is indexed in Access: The Supplementary Index to Periodicals; Texas Index and, for the years 1954 through 1981, The Texas Observer Index. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The Texas Observer, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. Austin’s expanding economy, property tax reduction is difficult to achieve because property values are continually increasing. Followup: For homeowners in Austin, what is the average dollar amount in tax relief provided by the $1.2 billion property tax cut you pushed through the Legislature in 1999? And what was the average dollar amount of tax relief provided to taxpayers in the Corpus Christi school district when you won a similar tax giveback in 1997? In late May, you walked onto the floor of the Senate and unsuccessfully tried to persuade Republican Senators Drew Nixon and John Carona to support a voucher bill sponsored by Amarillo Republican Teel Bivins and Lieutenant Governor Rick Perry. Why do you support vouchers? Expect the Governor to say that when schools fail, parents should have choices, and that the limited voucher program he supported unfortunately failed. Followup: How can you describe the original Republican voucher program you supported as “limited,” when it included all four of the state’s largest major metropolitan school districts? What sort of “limited” national voucher program would you support? You say that “children are our first prior ity.” So why did you try to establish eligi bility to the federal/state Children’s Health Insurance Program at 150 percent of the federal poverty level, which would have dropped 200,000 of the 500,000 children who will be insured \(only because Democrats in the House refused to go IS IT BAD FOR CONSUMERS WHEN CONSUMERS HAVE TO PICK UP THE TAB FOR 70 PERCENT OF A $9-BILLION DEBT? Expect the Governor to say that by limiting eligibility he could ensure that only the children who most need the insurance would get it. Followup: Texas is second in the nation in the number of uninsured children \(1.5 rates lower than Texas’s 150 percent; brother Jeb set Florida’s eligibility level at 200 percent of the poverty level; and New Jersey Governor Whitman set eligibility at 300 percent. Did Jeb Bush and Whitman intend to provide low-cost insurance to children who don’t really need it? The Senate version of the utilities deregulation bill would have loaded 70 percent of the $9 billion of debt that electric companies have incurred onto the backs of residential electricity consumers. When a Houston Democratic representative pro posed an amendment that will have residential and industrial consumers do a 5050 split on the $9-billion debt \(factored evenly into consumer and industrial elecamendment? Expect the Governor to respond that the equal distribution of the $9 billion in debt will be bad for business and will drive capital out of the state. Followup: If it’s bad for business when business has to pick up the tab for 70 percent of a private $9-billion debt, is it bad for consumers when consumers have to pick up the tab for 70 percent of a $9-billion debt? On June 7, The New York Times ran a front-page story that strongly implied that residents of Texas have suffered from a corporate-funded tort reform campaign that has imposed limits on juries when they rule in favor of individuals who have sued corporations. How do you justify your unflagging support for tort reform? Expect the Governor to respond that tort reform was necessary and “good for business” in Texas, and that everyone benefits in the end because insurance premiums fall. Followup: How, then, did the Times find that after ten years of tort reform, insurance See “Record,” page 24 4 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JUNE 25, 1999