AARP Legislative Leadership Award
State Representative Sylvester Turner (District 139—Houston) has been awarded the 2011 Legislative Leadership Award by AARP Texas
Presented to Turner before an audience of seniors at the Acres Homes Multi-Service Center in his district, the award symbolizes the AARP’s appreciation of the Representative’s ongoing efforts to protect senior citizens.
Choosing Representative Turner for this award was easy, said Tim Morstad, Associate State Director for Advocacy for AARP Texas.
“First,” said Morstad, “Sylvester Turner was the best in the past session at articulating the human impact from draconian budget cuts. No single legislator did more to put a human face on what would happen when cuts were made in critical legislation.”
Second, Turner fought to keep dedicated funds for their original purpose. This included the System Benefit Fund, originally created to help seniors and those with low incomes pay their electric bills. The money for that fund is still being collected on all electric bills but it has been siphoned off by the State Legislature, leaving little to help those in need. Morstad said it would have been worse if not for Turner.
‘Third, Sylvester Turner is the conscience of the Texas House,” said Morstad. “Someone needed to stand up and say ‘This is wrong.’ Representative Turner has been our best, most vocal advocate.”
Turner thanked AARP for its work on behalf of seniors and for bestowing the honor on him in the heart of his district.
“It was not a difficult decision to take a position to support our seniors,” Turner said. “I came into office 21 years ago on the backs of seniors, who rallied on my behalf. Had it not been for seniors investing their earnings in me, I would not be standing here today. I and many others are standing on the shoulders of the seniors in this district and across Texas.”
Turner said the past legislative session was the most challenging he’s ever faced with the massive budget cuts. He said he was astonished that legislators even considered closing half of the state’s nursing home and cutting assistance to seniors who want to stay home.
“Often, seniors have to choose between food, rent or mortgage, medicine or electricity,” Turner pointed out. “Yet, the state continues to decrease the electricity discount from the System Benefit Fund and put the money into the General Fund.
“Something is morally wrong when Texas leaders can rob seniors, the poor and those who are barely making it to subsidize oil and gas companies that are doing extremely well,” said Turner. “Something is wrong with this state leadership when seniors no longer matter, when children don’t matter, when nursing homes close.”