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The Cold, Hard Facts about the Leadership Void in Texas

JoAnn Fleming, Chair, Advisory Committee to the TEA Party Caucus of the TX Legislature

Executive Director, Grassroots America – We the People


February 23, 2012 

Where is the bold, focused, principled leadership we need in the Lone Star State? We are headed for the cliff – sure as shootin’ – but nobody in statewide leadership is saying a word. 

Governor Rick Perry has once more departed from the Lone Star to be a stand-in for Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign. I have a big problem with that. 

First, Governor Perry is being paid a state retirement benefit and as an employee of Texas. Perry officially “retired” this year for benefit purposes, a move that gives him about $90,000 more in annual retirement compensation – on top of his $150,000 salary as governor. 

Yes, it’s true. Since this news broke during the ‘sugar plum and jingle bell fog’ of December, most Texans don’t know that Gov. Rick Perry officially retired in January so he could draw early pension benefits worth $7,699 a month. Our governor’s January “retirement” was revealed in December when the Federal Elections Commission released the financial disclosure statement he was required to file as a candidate for the Republican nomination for president. This retirement annuity brings Perry’s total state government income to $242,388 a year. In other words, Governor Perry gets paid twice…we commoners call it “double dipping.” 

Is this legal? Sure. Is it right? Considering the times in which we live, does this represent what a true servant leader would or should do? 

Second, Texas taxpayers were billed almost $1.1 million in travel costs for a security detail to travel with Gov. Rick Perry on out-of-state events tied to his failed presidential campaign. Now that he has left the state again to campaign for Newt, Governor Perry will accumulate higher security detail costs to add to the tab Texas taxpayers will have to pick up. All the while, Perry reportedly had millions left in his campaign account. Instead of repaying Texas taxpayers by reimbursing the state, he plans to form a Super PAC and spend that money on campaigns. 

Is this legal? Sure. Is it right? Considering the times in which we live, does this represent what a true servant leader would or should do? 

Meanwhile back at the ranch…we have serious issues going on in Texas. 

Security – interior enforcement of the rule of law. News accounts abound that terrorist groups from the Middle East have camps in Mexico. Iran is making noise that it will strike the United States. Where’s Governor Perry on his own “emergency” legislative item from January 2011 – a ban on sanctuary cities? Governor Perry won’t even acknowledge the repeated calls from thousands of grassroots Texans to do something. Governor Perry should follow the leadership of governors of other states and just sign an executive order banning sanctuary cities in Texas. We’ve been begging, pleading, asking since June of last year. From him we get…the sound of crickets.

Considering the times in which we live, does this represent what a true servant leader would or should do? 

Our fiscal house is not in order. Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Tom Suehs has issued a warning that the state’s Medicaid social safety net costs for the 2014 – 2015 biennium budget will likely require $15 – $17 billion in additional funding. This is the budget the legislature will be dealing with in less than a year! According to Texas Public Policy Foundation, “In Texas, Medicaid has grown 113 percent in the last decade alone and is on track to double costs every 10 years through 2040.” 

Meanwhile, the state of Texas already has a planned $7.1 billion deficit for the current biennium because of the gimmicks used to artificially balance the budget last year.  

Governor Perry has put forward no plan to deal with the red ink. What do we hear from Speaker Joe Straus? He channels Washington, D.C. lingo saying, “you can’t cut your way to prosperity.” Lt. Governor David Dewhurst says he thinks the budget for the 83rd legislative session won’t be a problem because sales tax revenues are up. 

Considering the times in which we live, does this represent what true servant leaders would or should do? 

It is a reasonable question to ask,Where is the leadership we need to get our fiscal house in order? Where is the leadership that will protect Texas citizens and legal residents from the growing threat crossing our border and heading straight for sanctuary cities?” 

I guess it’s more fun and glamorous running around campaigning for Newt, shaking your fist at the federal government, making speeches and doing TV appearances than to do what you were elected to do and took an oath to perform. Comparatively speaking, I guess the heavy lifting of real leadership and problem solving is just not that attractive. 

If this sounds harsh, so be it. We live in harsh times – times that cry out for bold, principled leadership – not mere rhetoric. 

Where is the vision? Where is the leader who will boldly lead Texas forward? 

Where applicable, a political advertisement paid for by the GAWTP PAC, PO Box 130012,Tyler, TX 75713, Jimmie Taylor, PAC Treasurer.