Voices Empower

Are Todd Hunter’s Priorities the same as yours?

Date posted: December 5, 2011

Once again a great article from AgendaWise.com 

In a videotaped interview at the University of Texas at Austin, State Representative Todd Hunter revealed some backward priorities.

In minute seven Hunter called the committee he chaired, Calendars, the “gatekeeper of legislation.” According to Todd Hunter, Todd Hunter decided what got voted on in the session.

In minute 43 Hunter said that time ran out on spending limits. Evidently the “gatekeeper” prioritized spending limits in such a way that it missed the cut.

Spending limits is an issue that is so popular that it is both a legislative priority in the Republican platform and has passed ballot initiatives in Republican primaries three times in a row to the tune of 90%.

In the 82nd legislature Hunter made time to vote on and pass: a bill allowing for helicopter hog hunting, a bill legalizing noodling, and a bill outlawing puppy mills. He allowed the State House to listen to all of these, but somehow managed to leave out spending limits.

In finishing his dodge answer on the spending limits question, Hunter tried to sandbag spending limits going forward by saying that if they aren’t in the interim charges they will be hard to implement.  He told the questioner to check the interim charges when they come out. In Hunters logic, that’ll tell us if they can be done the next session.

Well, when this taped Q&A  at UT Austin happened the interim charges had already been out for almost three weeks. The interim charges don’t include spending limits. Hunter tried to introduce a phony condition for spending limits (being on the interim charges) that he already knew wasn’t going to be fulfilled.

Lucky for Texans, interim charges are just a way for leadership to try, in advance, to frame out of the picture issues it wants to block from a hearing, but interim charges aren’t very effective at actually doing that. Items not in the interim charges are taken up with regularity.

Sizing up legislators on a 90% Republican issue, and one of huge importance, is very useful right now.

–Todd Hunter interview 


Weston Hicks

Weston Hicks researches and writes about associations in the Texas political realm, media choices, and political strategy. Over the past year he has advised on grassroots and voter initiatives. He has a B.A. in History from the University of Texas at El Paso and a J.D. from University of Texas School of Law. He enjoys spending time with wife and three children, reading theology and political theory, and watching FC Barcelona. You can reach him at whicks@agendawise.com


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Growing Government With Gambling

Date posted: August 15, 2011

By DMatocha (08/10/2011) Empower Texans and special notes from JoAnn Fleming

A Republican committee chairman appointed by Speaker Joe Straus recently told a group of casino executives and racetrack owners he wants the state to “roll the dice” on gambling.
Citing a “purely economic basis” for his support of legalized gambling, Rep. Todd Hunter (R – Corpus Christi) must have forgotten to also cite the growth of government that would come with it.
Rep. Hunter was quoted by the Corpus Christi Caller in support of gambling last week after speaking at a local forum held by public issues group, Texas Lyceum. The event was focused on discussing the value of legalizing gambling for the state.
  [JoAnn’s note – TX Lyceum = left leaning]
What kind of “value” is that exactly?
For every dollar that comes into a state from gambling, three dollars would go out in the form of government expenses. That’s what Baylor economist Earl Grinols found, proving no matter how much “added revenue” gambling may add, a state will only see a net loss once it’s legalized.
Nevada is a perfect example of the false notion that gambling leads to economic prosperity. At the end of 2010, Nevada’s unemployment rate was as high as 14.9% and their budget shortfall was the highest in the nation. Not exactly a rousing endorsement for a “solution” promoted as a near magic bullet for budgetary or revenue woes.
Other states with a commercial gambling problem? New Jersey, Illinois, Delaware, Michigan… Not exactly the states you would think of as models of limited government.
When the 82nd Legislature was still in session, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility President Michael Sullivan issued two thorough breakdowns of the faulty logic behind the legalization of gambling. You can find them here (Don’t Bet Budget On Gambling) and here (Every Hand A Loser For Taxpayers). Fortunately, the legislature did not succumb to the siren song of gambling this session before the final gavel came down. If history (or comments from legislators like Rep. Hunter) are any indicator though, gambling will be proposed yet again as a budgetary cure-all come January 2013.
 [JoAnn’s note:  Yes, this will be one of the solutions when we face the planned budget deficit for 2013.  A conservative estimate of the deficit will be:  $2.3 billion in deferrals to Foundation School Program + $4.8 billion in underfunded Medicaid caseload growth for a grand total of $7.1 billion in a 2013 deficit.  I am convinced part of the reason the “power brokers” are fine with this phony budgeting is they keep hoping the state will be desperate enough to turn to gambling to fund the shortfalls they planned!  Sources:  The Texas Budget, Rep. David Simpson, and Texas Public Policy Foundation]
If Rep. Hunter is truly interested in representing the interests of his community, then he should renounce his support of gambling and the inevitable growth of government that comes with it.

RIP the Rino - No Pledge to Joe Straus

I wouldn’t be doing Corpus Christi residents justice, however, if I didn’t point out a potential confounding factor in Rep. Hunter’s thought process. Speaker Straus appointed him as Chair of the House Calendars Committee, arguably one of the most powerful leadership positions outside of the speakership given their ability to dictate what legislation is taken up on the floor of the House and when. It’s openly known that Straus and his family stand to profit handsomely from legalizing gambling.

What this ultimately boils down to though, is that any fiscal woes we may encounter in the future will never be solved long-term by “additional revenue” like gambling. (Just look at how poorly the state lottery has actually funded public education.) Spending cuts are the only tried and true method to balancing the budget without growing our oversized government any larger. Rep. Hunter would be wise to take note.
JoAnn Fleming, Chair – Advisory Committee to the TEA Party Caucus of the TX Legislature
Executive Director (volunteer), Grassroots America – We the People  www.gawtp.com
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