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Spread the Word – 2014 is Coming!

Date posted: March 27, 2013

JoAnn Fleming

By JoAnn Fleming 

Fellow Texas Constitutional Conservatives: 

In 2010, we worked together to send conservatives to the state legislature. In 2011, the Austin ruling class worked against our conservative legislators and ignored our cries for reform. In 2012, we rose up to fight again and sent a larger contingent of conservatives to the legislature. We sent Ted Cruz to the US Senate. In 2013, the establishment is working overtime to silence the reformers, and they are working harder than ever to hold their fairy tale together. But, fellow Texans, 2014 is coming…

We want you to know that grassroots conservatives from across the state are in the trenches in Austin. We want you to know what we are fighting for, and we ask you to spread the following unified message because 2014 is coming.

We are sending a strong, commonsense, liberty-advancing message in Austin that must apply to all legislation:

  • Stop the “borrow and spend” practices. Why? Today, Texas state government has more debt than the US Postal Service ($16 billion). “Borrow and spend” is just as bad as “tax and spend” because it threatens liberty for future generations. According to the Legislative Budget Board, the amount of state debt outstanding is $40.99 billion, an increase of $22.81 billion, or 125% over the amount of state debt outstanding 10 years ago in fiscal year 2003. Sounds like Washington, DC.

 

  • Stop digging holes and fill in the ones you’ve already created. Why? On top of the state debt, the Texas Tomorrow Fund has a $644 million hole (parents pay into a fund to secure their child’s college education at today’s prices). The Teachers Retirement System is underfunded, creating a $27 billion hole. Our state government is incurring costs today, without setting aside the money needed to meet tomorrow’s obligations. Sounds like Washington, DC.

 

  • Stop the diversions. Why? Our legislature uses millions of dollars in taxes and fees created for one purpose and diverts them to another purpose. One big example is the gas tax diverted from road construction to non-road uses. There are too many examples to list! Sounds like Washington, DC.

 

  • Stop the accounting gimmicks and deferrals to balance the budget. Why? We need truth in budgeting! Since sales tax collections for the 2012-2013 budget exceeded the Comptroller’s revenue projections, the $7.1 billion planned shortfall from last session is being paid from the “surplus” revenue and from the Rainy Day Fund; however, our legislature, governor, lt. governor, and house speaker need to stop just balancing the budget on paper and actually practice truth in budgeting. Anything less sounds like Washington, DC!

 

  • Don’t raid the Rainy Day Fund. Why? The Rainy Day Fund should always maintain a balance large enough to ensure our AAA credit rating AND provide funds to endure a natural disaster or a terrorist attack (made possible with open borders and sanctuary cities) without having to depend on the federal government. Frankly, our elected officials need to prepare for getting less federal dollars since the financial collapse of the federal government may be coming. Texas is no longer a donor state. For the last 8 years, Texas has received more federal dollars than were paid into the federal treasury by taxpayers. Texas is helping to build the federal debt. This is the history of federal dollars in our state budget for the last 3 biennial periods: 

2008 – 2009: federal funds were $55.1 billion or 32% of state budget revenue

2010 – 2011: federal funds were $72.6 billion or 38.7% of state budget revenue

2012—2013: federal funds were $54.7 billion or 31.5% of state budget revenue

If they ignore these facts and do anything less than prepare for tough times ahead, our state officials will be acting like Washington, DC!

  • Stop gazing lovingly at our wallets. According to the Legislative Budget Board, Texas state spending rose 310% between 1990 and 2012, while population growth plus inflation totaled only 132%. This is why we don’t support adding new taxes and fees to fund the core constitutional functions of state government, and we won’t until the legislature actually practices real budget transparency and truth in budgeting. After all, “TEA” stands for Taxed Enough Already! Stop acting like Washington DC, telling us you need new revenue. We the people didn’t make the mess, but we will stand with those of you who work to clean it up.

 

If you agree – and we hope you do – please circulate this information. “We the People” of Texas must understand that although our state is stronger than most, we can and must do better. 
cracksThe cracks in the foundation are showing…

 

Texas is not the Land of Oz…

The fairy tales coming out of Austin must be debunked. That responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the Texas Constitutional Conservative Grassroots. Since we aren’t funded by special interests, we are free to tell it like it is – the pure, unvarnished truth. Why? The elections of 2014 are coming.

 

Where applicable, a political advertisement paid for by

the Grassroots America – We the People PAC, P.O. Box 130012, Tyler, TX 75713.

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There’s trouble brewing in Austin. The “Kings of Texas” are coming for your liberty and your wallets! (Updated)

Date posted: March 18, 2013

Calling all grassroots conservatives in Texas!  
Sound the alarm! 

Last night there was a Statewide Conference Call with JoAnn Fleming (Director Grassroots America & TEA Party Caucus Advisory Committee Chair) and Terri Hall (TURF Director & Founder – Texas United for Reform & Freedom)

So Did you make it on the call last night? 

Check out this new App~ Visit www.openthebooks.com:  all United States Government spending. 

Download the OpenTheBooks Mobile App and instantly see all of it from your smart phone.

Texas Open Books.com

See and track the progress of any bill at the Texas Legislature Online

Texas TURF Texas United for Freedom

Here are some resources from Texas Turf (Texas United for Reform and Freedom) 
Helpful resources:Download:
TURF’s Legislative Agenda for the 2013 83rd Texas Legislature.
Fact Sheet on Why It’s Anti-Taxpayer to Privatize our Public Roads (using CDAs/PPPs).
What do we want? Pro-taxpayer Transportation Policy
Abuses of Tolling
OUTRAGEOUS Facts Sheet
Pay-as-you-go funding of road construction can be done with a comprehensive transportation package, which should include:

 

  • State government restructuring to eliminate overlapping, duplicated effort;phase-out of funding for budget items beyond the core constitutional responsibilities of state government;
  • TxDOT operational reforms & increased transparency;
  • Reigning in flagrant waste (documented) via “local control” RMAs, MPOs and COGs spending millions on “enhancements”;
  • Refocus on building highways to relieve traffic congestion – not funding light rail, street cars, biking/hiking trails, parks and roads for economic development (the “build it and they will come” scenario);
  • Ending diversions;
  • Dedicating vehicle sales and use tax revenue to highway construction (the Nichols Plan – SB 287);
  • Early debt retirement, if approved by the people (the Eltife Plan – Constitutional Amendment via SJR 47)

Reforms Required as part of the package:

 

  • Return to pay-as-you-go; no more public road debt (state or local).
  • Make all toll viability studies OPEN to the public (currently kept SECRET) – (HB 2870 – Capriglione)
  • No more Public Private Partnerships (P3s), handing control of our Texas infrastructure to private, even foreign, corporations. This applies to roads and other public facilities such as the Capitol Complex. No more use of eminent domain for private gain.
  • No more public subsidies, credit enhancements, or loan guarantees for any type of toll project.
  • Comprehensive financial audit of TxDOT prior to the agency’s next sunset review in 2015 to gain efficiencies and end practices that drive-up costs, e. g., Design-Build CDAs, P3s, and multi-million dollar “enhancements” that have nothing to do with moving traffic.

New Revenues:

 

  • End diversions of all road user fees (motor fuel tax, vehicle sales tax, tire sales, auto parts sales tax) to non-transportation uses.
  • Phase-in motor vehicle sales/use tax revenues to the Highway Fund, consistent with Nichols’ SB 287.

Constitutional restrictions on the use of New Revenues

 

  • No diversions: May only be used for planning, design, construction of new state highway system road capacity and the maintenance of this new capacity once built.
  • Not Used for Toll Roads: May not be used on comprehensive development agreements or projects involving the construction of toll lanes.
  • No Debt: Shall be used for pay-as-you go projects and may not be used as backing for new debt financing (whether at the state or local level).
  • No non-road expenditures: None of these funds may be used for any expense related to bike trails, transit or pedestrian walkways.

Read more: 2013 (83rd legislative session)

The Problem: Anti-liberty Legislation is ALIVE and WELL in Austin!  Establishment Republicans who do not share our values have plans for you:

  • Plans to mushroom state debt with 100 YEAR BONDS.
  • Plans to push debt down to the local level, opening the door for MORE PROPERTY TAX INCREASES.
  • Plans to hand out more taxpayer dollars to well-connected special interests via CORPORATE WELFARE.
  • Plans to SABOTAGE THE TERM LIMITS BILLS in the House and Senate.
  • Plans to build ALL future state highways as CORPORATE TOLL ROADS and sell them off to foreign multinationals (the TransTexas Corridor plan blown up all across the state).
  • Plans to use eminent domain power for PRIVATE GAIN via transportation policy.
  • Plans to continue the ACCOUNTING GIMMICKS and SMOKE AND MIRRORS to “balance” the state budget on paper while running up more debt.
  • Plans to expand Medicaid in the quest for ObamaCare dollars–bankrupting our state in the process.

The Solution:  YOU ARE THE SOLUTION.
Nobody’s coming to save us–but US!       

TURF2

Watch out for liberal and moderate legislators signing up to support Second Amendment and pro-life legislation while stealing your liberty and your children’s future!  Don’t be fooled!  We must look at THE ENTIRE RECORD — not just the easy votes.  It’s easy to support the 2nd Amendment and be pro-life in Texas…even liberal Republicans can, but they hide a multitude of other sins under those two important issues, hoping you won’t look at the rest of their record!  Don’t let them get away with it! 

This is the first of a series of regular calls planned to keep grassroots Texans informed during the session.  

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Alice Linahan

 

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Grassroots coalition calls on Perry, Dewhurst, & Straus to lead the way on a new vision for roads

Date posted: March 13, 2013

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Texans want leadership to implement new vision for roads

TURF – Texans Uniting for Reform & Freedom

TURF

Sensible bills should not be held hostage to promote special interests, more road debt, tax hikes, and budget-busting tolls that will only burden small businesses, families, seniors, and young adults on limited income!
(Austin, TX, March 12, 2013) – On Tuesday morning, Texans from across the state converged at the capitol to stress the need for Texas Governor Rick Perry, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, Speaker Joe Straus, and House and Senate budget writers to prevent the most fiscally sound, long-term road funding solutions from being held hostage to more tolls, debt, and tax hikes. Activist leaders Terri Hall (TURF) and JoAnn Fleming (TEA Party Caucus Advisory Committee Chair and Grassroots America director) sounded the alarm to Texans that soon every major road will be tolled, and foreign corporations can take over our  roadways, driving up the cost of daily travel with unfettered tolling. 

“Texans don’t take kindly to unelected boards and commissions raising taxes on them, and that is just what these toll agencies can and will do if we don’t change course now,” warned TURF’s founder and director, Terri Hall.

Hall says the word around the capitol is that the bills that would solve the road-funding shortfall by dedicating the existing vehicle sales tax (SB 287/HB 782) to roads — have been sent to the budget committees to die. 

“They don’t want to prioritize spending in order to get the money we already pay in taxes over to roads,” fumed Hall.  “Instead, the Governor (in support of SB 1632) wants Texans to pay back their own tax money with interest through tolls or local tax hikes for all these toll projects that can’t pay for themselves without taxpayer bail outs.”

“If our leaders insist on dealing with the problem with more tax hikes, more tolls, and more debt, there will be a voter revolt. People are already saddled with higher payroll and income taxes from Washington, DC, and property taxes and local debt are rising around most of the state. Just as we cannot afford more tax and spend from government, we cannot afford more borrow and spend for roads,” insists JoAnn Fleming, Executive Director of Grassroots America.  

“Some of the folks inside this building are the architects of this debt cliff with their fairy tale, smoke and mirrors budgeting and creative financing – they’ve maxed out the credit card. We can get out of it, but it will take leadership and somebody standing up for the taxpayers,” Fleming said. 

She added, “If our wallets are the first solution they will be the only solution that survives the session. We aren’t going to give anybody a green light for raising the gas tax or vehicle registration fees until our leaders clear the debris they put in the road, out of the road.” 

Proposals the Coalition Opposes
Governor Perry’s endorsed solution is to redirect federal highway funds into the State Infrastructure Bank (SB 1632) to be used to guarantee toxic local toll road debt and even mass transit projects, (which these funds currently cannot be used to do). Perry’s proposal also encourages local taxes and tax hikes to bailout toll projects that can’t pay for themselves.

Terri Hall says this won’t solve the funding problem in a fiscally-sound, transparent way. “If this is the solution, Texans will not be able to get to work or get their kids to school without paying $10 or more a day to get across town. It’s insane, especially when gas prices are going through the roof! How is this not a tax hike?” asks Hall.

Senate Finance Committee Chair Tommy Williams proposes (SJR 38) a similar loan guarantee program for economic development toll road and mass transit projects using the Rainy Day Fund as well as a separate proposal (SJR 39) to increase vehicle registration fees to build new road capacity. Neither solve the long-term road funding shortfalls nor get the state back to pay-as-you-go. 

Unsustainable Debt Spiral
Securing a reliable, long-term source of revenue, coupled with operational reforms, are necessary for cost-effective highway planning and the avoidance of more debt; however, the state has no sustainable policy for funding roads. The Grant Thornton audit of 2010 states that our debt path is unsustainable. According to an April 24, 2012, Associated Press account (citing federal data), Texas leads the nation in road debt ($31 billion, principle and interest). This is supported by documents provided by Senator Robert Nichols, which show debt (principle only) to be $23 billion.

Incurring more road debt, whether at the state or local level, is not fiscally responsible, conservative, nor sustainable. Several sources have also indicated that there are no more viable toll projects in the state — where the tolls could ever hope to pay for the expense of the road without considerable taxpayer subsidies.We must return to pay-as-you-go.

Raising Taxes Not the Answer
“Any tax collected from road users should be going to fund roads first, especially before any politician asks us to dig deeper into our pockets to fund roads with tax hikes and more tolls,” contends Hall. “Tolls are taxes the way they’re being done in Texas today, since $10 billion in public funds are going to build toll roads, yet they’re still charging us a toll to drive on them.”

Conservatives feel the state leadership is behaving as politicians in Washington do – holding out for tax increases so they don’t have to cut spending and reform TxDOT.

“Texans are fed-up with out-of-control government that never gets its priorities straight, and keeps asking us to pay more when the taxes already collected aren’t going for their intended purpose,” reiterated Fleming. 

Gas tax a source of diminishing funding
The state gas tax, the primary source of revenue for TxDOT, has been unchanged for 20 years. This has caused a reliance on toll roads to bridge the funding gap, which costs Texans prohibitively more than a tax-funded road (1-2 cents a mile vs. 15 – 75 cents a mile for tolls). 

We cannot expect to build today’s roads with a 20-year-old revenue source. This structural shortfall must be addressed without more tolls, more debt, and more taxes. 

Between 1990 – 2012, Texas state spending rose 310%, while population growth plus inflation totaled only 132%. [Source:  Texas Public Policy Foundation analysis of Legislative Budget Board documents]. Lawmakers should refocus on the core constitutional functions of state government.

Comprehensive transportation package needed
The proper pay-as-you-go funding of road construction can be done with a comprehensive transportation package, which should include:

– State government restructuring to eliminate overlapping, duplicated effort;
– Phase-out of funding for budget items beyond the core constitutional responsibilities of state government;
– TxDOT operational reforms;
– Reigning in flagrant waste (documented) via “local control” RMAs, MPOs and COGs spending millions on “enhancements”;
– Refocus on building highways to relieve traffic congestion – not funding light rail, street cars, biking/hiking trails, parks and roads for economic development (the “build it and they will come” scenario); 
– Ending diversions;  
– Dedicating vehicle sales and use tax revenue to highway construction (the Nichols Plan – SB 287);
– Early debt retirement, if approved by the people (the Eltife Plan – Constitutional Amendment via SJR 47)

State leaders should work together on this commonsense, taxpayer-friendly transportation package by first actively supporting Nichols’ bill (SB 287) which phases in the dedication of vehicles sales/use tax to roads. A dedicated vehicle sales tax revenue stream will keep pace with inflation on its own and help meet the growing transportation needs of Texas. 

The vehicle sales tax currently represents $3.3 billion a year (and growing), and coupled with ending gas tax diversions, which the Governor estimates is $650 million a year, it gets the State very close to the $4 billion it needs to build and maintain our state highway system. The Nichols’ phase-in facilitates long-range TxDOT construction planning, and it does not provide a sudden shock to general revenues, since the vehicle sales tax is growing so rapidly.

Summary of solutions
The conservative activist leaders admit their recommendations are not easy, but insist they are workable, sustainable solutions a majority of voters will support to end the current “borrow and spend” cycle:

Reforms:
 – Return to pay-as-you-go; no more public road debt (state or local). 
 – No more Public Private Partnerships (P3s), handing control of our Texas infrastructure to private, even foreign, corporations. This applies to roads and other public facilities such as the Capitol Complex. No more use of eminent domain for private gain.
 – No more public subsidies, credit enhancements, or loan guarantees for any type of toll project.
– Comprehensive financial audit of TxDOT prior to the agency’s next   sunset review in 2015 to gain efficiencies and end practices that drive-up costs, e. g., Design-Build CDAs, P3s, and multi-million dollar “enhancements” that have nothing to do with moving traffic.

New Revenues:
– End diversions of all road user fees (motor fuel tax, vehicle sales tax, tire sales, auto parts sales tax) to non-transportation uses.
– Phase-in motor vehicle sales/use tax revenues to the Highway Fund, consistent with Nichols’ SB 287.

Constitutional restrictions on the use of New Revenues
– No diversions: May only be used for planning, design, construction of new state highway system road capacity and the maintenance of this new capacity once built.
– Not Used for Toll Roads:  May not be used on comprehensive development agreements or projects involving the construction of toll lanes.
– No Debt:  Shall be used for pay-as-you go projects and may not be used as backing for new debt financing (whether at the state or local level).
– No non-road expenditures:  None of these funds may be used for any expense related to bike trails, transit or pedestrian walkways.

Hall emphasized, “Implementing these reforms, securing all existing transportation-related taxes, and dedicating these taxes to a ‘roads-only priority plan’ will restore an affordable, pay-as-you-go, pro-taxpayer, pro-freedom transportation policy for all Texans.”

“Since we believe the people are taxed enough already, and we know other solutions exist to fund needed road construction, we promise two things:  1) we will work with the leaders on the transportation package; and 2) we will make ending the ‘innovative financing’ gimmicks, waste, and debt spiral a campaign issue in the next election cycle,” concludes Fleming.

Women On the Wall  takes on the issues that matter. Sharing information and updates on our weekly radio show on Monday mornings at 10 am CST. You will not want to miss this show. We will have up to date information on CSCOPE  and guests who are the experts on education and other issues that are effecting our children and grandchildren.

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Knowledge is Power and together we can make the difference!!

Alice Linahan

Follow @AliceLinahan on twitter and Facebook 

Voices Empower has partnered the Freedom Trailer Teams to Educate, Inspire and Motivate.

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A Lesson in Austin Corruption 2

Date posted: February 21, 2013

By Jan Shedd

 

If you want to know how the Austin machine works, pay attention.  Watch the video, and then read what I wrote back in November.

While Lance comes across as calm, cool, and fair, what he is actually doing is reading from the pro-gambling website Let Texans Decide script.

 

VIDEO

 

Be Careful What You Ask For

 

They’re baaack! The same crowd that gave us Scratch Offs is two-stepping again. Advocates for expanding gambling have been working behind the scenes with assorted RINOs and Democrats for years, formulating a grand strategy to expand, expand, expand.  Unfortunately, money alone isn’t enough to make their dreams come true.  Expanded gambling will require a change to the state’s constitution. They need a two-thirds majority vote in the both houses of the legislature to put a referendum before the voters. The wolves are willing, but many of them have constituents who would end their public careers if they supported it.  What to do, what to do?

 

For years now, we’ve been hearing from people like (Speaker of the Texas House) Joe Straus that we can’t cut our way to prosperity.  They don’t want to raise taxes, they tell us, but we must have more revenue.  This was the laying of the foundation, if you will. Conservative activists understood the meaning behind the rhetoric, and have been bracing for an extremely well funded assault. It’s here: Let Texans Decideis a milk-and-honey propaganda campaign designed to sell expanded gambling to Texas voters.

 

First of all, let’s call it what it is: gambling.  They call it gaming because it sounds better.  Monopoly is a game.  Checkers is a game.  To call gambling a game is like calling a tiger a kitty-cat. 

 

Gambling supporters will soon be spending millions of dollars to sell Texans on the idea of expanded gambling.  How will they do it?  For starters, look at what they’re calling it: “Let Texans Decide.” How could anyone oppose that?  Pro-gambling websites are full of reminders that Texans don’t like nanny-state government, and should be able to make up their own minds, as though that were being denied to us somehow.  When candidates for state offices run on an anti-expanded-gambling platform, you can vote for them or against them.  We are quite able to make our wishes known about the bane of gambling, and don’t let anyone convince you that we aren’t. 

 

Joe Straus Speaker Showdown

Slot Machine Joe

 

Let’s take a look at what Let Texans Decide says.

 

1.    Casinos at racetracks would add $8.5 billion in economic growth statewide.

 

I don’t know where these numbers come from, but a very educated guess would be “economic studies” paid for by gambling interests.  It is very likely that an unbiased study would show much lower numbers. Only 2% of gambled money is taxable.  The rest goes to the casino/slot machine owners and the prize pool. What is certain is that legalized/expanded gambling never lives up to its promises.  Remember how the lottery was going to pay for education? Whatever happened with that?  Other states have added slots to save their failing horse tracks, called racinos, but decline in interest continued unabated and the horse tracks closed anyway.

 

2.    Texans already gamble outside our borders – according to a 2010 study, 90% of the customers at casinos on the Texas-Oklahoma border are Texans.

 

This information is disseminated to make you think that people who leave Texas to gamble want it in their backyard so they don’t have to drive so far. Some Texans oppose gambling outright in any form, anywhere, based on religious or other reasons.  Most have nothing against it whether they partake or not, but they understand that it comes with baggage that they don’t want to deal with, and they see having to drive out of state as a small price to pay. I have heard people say this.

 

legalized-gambling-in-texas3.    Casinos at racetracks in Texas could generate an estimated $1 billion annually in tax revenue.

 All states trying to convince their voters that gambling is good use this same “$1 billion” number.  It too is a highly questionable figure. Promises, promises . . . if gambling is so lucrative for states, why is Nevada in such dire economic straits?  One reason why is that they keep electing Dirty Harry Reid, but it’s not realistic to put all the blame on him alone. Something else is afoot.

 

Let Texans Decide also tells us that expanded gambling will add thousands of jobs to our state.  This is true.  Expanded gambling will mean more government.  The State will have to hire more workers to oversee it, and those workers will have to be paid salaries, medical benefits, and pensions.  Also, there will be a large increase in law enforcement & prison guard positions because where gambling goes, crime follows.

 

Something else you won’t find on Let Texans Decide is the fact that gambling hurts cities.  Wherever there are casinos, the areas immediately surrounding them deteriorates.  Companies don’t like to be located in slums, so they either move away, or avoid going there altogether. Of the five U.S. cities hit hardest by the recession, four were in gambling states, and two [were] in Nevada.[1]

 

Did you know that much of the lottery revenue in Texas comes from the same areas with the highest rates of people on public assistance?   It’s less than comforting to think that the lottery creates extra need in districts that use need as political clout to increase taxpayer assistance.[2]  The Dallas chapter of the NAACP recently voted unanimously to eliminate the lottery. 

Members of the nation’s oldest civil rights group [the NAACP] say they are frustrated by poor an minority Texans spending their money on [lottery] tickets, rather than necessities such and or health insurance–Ft Worth Star Telegram

 

I believe that if a referendum were held today, gambling would lose.  But after months of disinformation on television, billboards, newspapers, the Internet, and slick politicians, etc., gambling interests might be able to convince a majority of Texans to support it.  To quote Vladimir Lenin, “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.”  Don’t be fooled by the rhetoric of people who will say almost anything to open the lucrative floodgates of gambling.  The same people who sold us the lottery with solemn promises of plentiful revenue in the early 90s are making the same promises again.  They were wrong then and they’re wrong now.

 

Key Steps to take to protect our children and grandchildren!  

Conservatives must stand strong in the race for Speaker of the Texas House ACTION STEP: #1 ~ Join the Movement to#StopCSCOPE ~ Sign the Petition NOW – http://womenonthewall.org/cscope-petition

ACTION STEP: #2 Start helping REP. STEVE TOTH with his very important bill HB 760 — The CSCOPE Transparency Act To Ensure Consistent Oversight of Public School Curriculum  

*Note:  Janice VanCleave regularly updates her CSCOPE website:www.TxCscopeReview.com

Women On The Wall Radio ~ WBTM Guest Lisa Benson

Women On the Wall will be taking on this issue and sharing information and updates on our weekly radio show on Monday mornings at 10 am CST. You will not want to miss this show. We will have up to date information on CSCOPE  and guests who are the experts on education and other issues that are effecting our children and grandchildren.

Knowledge is Power and together we can make the difference!!

Alice Linahan

Follow @AliceLinahan on twitter and Facebook 

Voices Empower has partnered the Freedom Trailer Teams to Educate, Inspire and Motivate.

Women On The Wall.org

___________________________________________

Voices Empower

Check Out Voices Empower Articles  .

  Please attribute to Alice Linahan  with Voices Empower

Knowledge is Power~ Click and share with your friends!

An Unconvincing Start for the Texas Legislative Budget Board

Date posted: November 16, 2012

By JoAnn Fleming 

The vote by the Legislative Budget Board to set the state spending limit was really the first vote for the upcoming legislative session and will be scored as such by those who size up voting records. The LBB’s action sends voters a signal and sets the tone for the upcoming legislative session. They are off to an unconvincing start. 
LBB Straus and Dewhurst
It is important to remember that “all funds” state spending has grown at more than twice the rate of population and inflation since 1990. Our state’s practice of maximizing the pull down of federal dollars helped fuel the increased spending. Now that Texas is no longer a “donor state,” (Texans paying in more federal taxes than the state receives back) the excuses for chasing federal dollars fall a bit flat. In the past eight years, Texas got more out of the federal Treasury than Texans paid in.[Source: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/headlines/20120805-texas-can-no-longer-complain-that-it-gives-more-than-it-gets-from-federal-government.ece
 
The LBB vote for a state spending limit greater than population growth and inflation opens the door to a budget that increases the cost of government on every Texan. Texas families and small businesses can ill afford more government spending as new federal health care taxes kick in on top of the payroll tax, investment tax, estate tax and income tax increases looming from the federal government on January 1, 2013.
 
 
The LBB was told during the meeting that a population-plus-inflation limit would be9.85% for the biennium; the board then adopted the growth rate of 10.71%provided by the Office of Texas Comptroller Susan Combs.
 
 
The LBB’s staff presented five forecasts of 2014-15 Texas personal income growth ranging from 8.71% by the University of North Texas Center for Economic Development to 12.21% by Moody’s Analytics. The LBB voted unanimously to choose the 10.71% estimate from the comptroller’s office, which was the second-lowest forecast, but still higher than the 9.85% population-plus-inflation limit.
 
 
We appreciate the verbal commitments made by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Senate Finance Chairman Tommy Williams that the Senate’s budget will not exceed the rate of population growth and inflation, but we urge the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker, and Comptroller to strengthen the Lt. Governor’s position when they finally set the state spending limit during the next 10 days.
 
 
While the commitments from the Lt. Governor and Senate Finance Chairman Williams sound at least promising, comments from the House side of the LBB sent up red flags – especially those from the Republicans who engaged in verbal backslapping about their sterling records of fiscal restraint. Truth is – the highest conservative rating from the House side of the LBB is a C+ average from the past three years. The others are all C, D, and F-rated. Their poor fiscal conservative records, added to Speaker Straus’s stance that “you can’t cut your way to prosperity,” mean we will be counting on the House’s senior fiscal hawks and the conservative freshmen to curtail spending in the House version of the state budget. [Straus quote from http://www.elpasotimes.com/news/ci_19211497]
 
 
We are pleased to have a commitment from the Lt. Governor that he will work to end the series of gimmicks used in the past to help balance the budget. That’s good news, since Texans don’t expect their state leaders to use Washington DC-styled tricks to balance the state’s budget in the first place. We expect our state officials to do what small businesses and families are doing – bracing for higher costs and the impact of a $16 trillion and growing federal debt.
 
 
Texas must get its fiscal house in order, while properly funding the core functions of state government. To do that, our state must 1) stop handing out tax dollars to big business and crazy, non-essential spending on things like Formula One racing for Austin; 2) end fraud, waste and abuse in Medicaid and other social services, and 3) cut wasteful duplicative state departments, agencies and programs. There’s more – many more ways to reduce spending, but serious attention to these three items would be a much more convincing start to the legislative session by our statewide officials and state legislators. 
 
JoAnn Fleming, Executive Director (volunteer), Grassroots America – We the People www.gawtp.com   

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