What Passage of HB 1, The State Budget, Means to Texans
April 4, 2011

From doomsday predictions to claims of fiscal responsibility, the new state  budget passed by Texas Lawmakers in the House Sunday night is certain to have a huge impact on you and your family.

We already know that school districts around the state are getting substantially less funding, $8 Billion dollars less,  and are being forced to layoff  teachers and make cuts that hurt the classrooms.

Some also fear that nursing homes will also shutdown and there will be massive job losses around the state. 

After the vote on House Bill 1, elected leaders reacted along party lines.  I’m posting the full statements I’ve received so far. Starting first with a statement from republican Governor Rick Perry followed by statements from several Houston democrats.

Statement by Gov. Rick Perry on Passage of House Bill 1 

“Today’s action by the House is another step toward achieving fiscal responsibility and ensuring state government lives within its means. House members set priorities for state spending and found savings, and thanks to their leadership, this budget paves the way to help Texas recover from the impacts of the national economic recession.

 “You cannot tax or spend your way to prosperity, and Texans expect their elected leaders to govern under that truth when it comes to taxpayer dollars. I look forward to working with members of the Senate as we continue to move a budget through the legislative process that lays the foundation for a prosperous future while funding our state’s priorities, and preserving the balance of the Rainy Day Fund without raising taxes on families or employers.”

Representative Farrar Takes a Stand Against ‘Job-Killing’ State Budget

AUSTIN, TX–The Texas House of Representatives voted 98 to 49 to approve $27 billion in cuts to public schools, cuts to nursing home and health care services, and cuts to jobs from the state budget over the next two years.  House Democratic Leader Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) commented that, “Writing a budget in tough economic times is about setting priorities.  In my opinion, the Republicans in control got the priorities all wrong.  Instead of rolling up their sleeves and doing the hard work they were elected to do, the Republican majority in the House voted for a ‘cuts-only’ budget that will cost our state hundreds of thousands of jobs, and devastate public education and nursing home care.”

“Instead of working on real solutions to protect our priorities in the state budget, the Republican majority was more interested in scoring ideological points and partisan politics. 

A recent report by the state’s non-partisan Legislative Budget Board indicated that teacher layoffs and other cuts included the budget would have a ripple effect, eventually costing over 325,000 jobs.

“This fiscal mess and our state’s ongoing structural deficit are result of corporate tax loopholes and Governor Perry’s insistence that the Legislature pass a ‘cuts only’ budget.  That is why House Democrats support a plan protect our state’s important priorities through a mix of smart budget cuts, using the state’s Rainy Day Fund savings account, and closing massive corporate tax loopholes that prevent some big businesses to pay their fair share to fund our schools. 

 “Almost eighty years ago, President Franklin Roosevelt led our country and passed the New Deal — helping to secure the future for generations.  By failing to protect our priorities in this budget, Texas House Republicans will have taken a major step backwards in history,” Representative Farrar concluded.

 Statement from Rep. Coleman on House Bill 1

 Austin–Representative Garnet F. Coleman (D-Houston) released the following statement in response to his vote against House Bill 1: 

I refuse to vote for a budget that will hurt children, harm our elderly, and risk the lives of Texans. In my 20 years as a state legislator, I’ve never seen a budget so devastating.  

The cuts in House Bill 1 are unsustainable and cut into the marrow. Our state may never recover from the cuts to essential state services in this bill, and maybe that’s the design. 

Texas should pass a budget that funds the needs of Texans. All we’ve done today is move around the deck chairs as the Titanic sinks.

State Representative Carol Alvarado Votes Against HB 1

 AUSTIN// State Representative Carol Alvarado voted against House Bill 1, the proposed House version of the state budget.  

“HB 1 is not a budget I can support.  The deep cuts seen in the proposal are detrimental to our public education system, our healthcare services and our state.  This proposal will put over 300,000 public and private sector jobs in jeopardy, affect the way we educate our children for years to come, close over 80% of Texas nursing homes,  have disastrous effects to our mental health services, and make it harder for students to pay for higher education on top of already rising tuition rates. ” said Alvarado. 

 “We should not have looked at a cuts-only approach to solving our budget shortfall.  We have a structural deficit that is not going away and although it is understandable that in tough times we all must look at ways to live within our means, we must also look for lasting solutions.  Just like Texas families do in tough times, we should be seeking out all sensible solutions in our reach to implement along with some cuts, such as utilizing majority of the Rainy Day Fund, closing extraneous loopholes in our business taxes, identifying predictable streams of new revenue, and attracting new business enterprises, such as gaming, to our state.”     

Rep. Walle Responds to Passage of State Budget

AUSTIN — Today State Representative Armando Walle (D-Houston) released the following statement in response to passage of House Bill 1, the general appropriations act, by the Texas House of Representatives: 

“Over the course of the lengthy budget debate, I fought alongside my Democratic colleagues in the House to protect important state priorities — defending jobs and public education and keeping nursing homes open.  At the same time, House Republicans overwhelmingly demonstrated their unwillingness to protect those important priorities.

On Friday, 89 Republicans rejected an amendment which would have saved tens of thousands of teacher jobs and kept our public schools funded at current levels.  Republicans were also wrong to force legislators to make false choices between important priorities such as jobs and health care. 

We have a moral obligation to protect our most vulnerable citizens, especially children and the elderly, but unfortunately this budget leaves them behind.  I support a responsible strategy combining smart budget cuts, use of the Rainy Day Fund and closing corporate tax loopholes to fund all of our important state priorities and strengthen our economy

Mayor Parker and Others Respond To Census Numbers
February 17, 2011

The new census numbers are out for the City of Houston and Texas.

Hispanics make up 38% of the state’s population while Houston did not gain as many new residents as predicted.

However, Mayor Annise Parker insists she will still move forward with a plan to add two new seats to city council.

I’ve posted her reaction to the census numbers along with reaction from State Reps. Garnet Coleman, Carol Alvarado and Jessica Farrar.

Mayor Parker Issues Statement About 2010 Census Numbers

“I am quite surprised by the numbers because all indications were that we had already reached a population of 2.1 million residents.  Because we are so close to that threshold, we are proceeding as planned with redistricting and the addition of two new City Council seats.  As part of this process, we have adopted a timeline and scheduled public meetings in each council district.  In addition, today, I appointed a special mayor’s committee to advise me as we proceed.” Committee members:
The Honorable Zinetta Burney
Penny Hess Butler
The Honorable Anthony Hall, Chair
The Honorable Roman Martinez
Mace Meeks
The Honorable Gordon Quan
Pat Sanchez
Adolfo Santos
The Honorable Sue Schechter

 More information on the Houston Census is available at:  http://2010.census.gov/news/xls/cb11cn37_tx_2010redistr.xls

 Statement from Legislative Study Group Chair Rep. Garnet F. Coleman on Release of U.S. Census Data
(AUSTIN) – Representative Garnet F. Coleman, chair of the Legislative Study Group House Caucus, released the following statement in response to the release of U.S. Census Data for the state of Texas:

“The Legislative Study Group looks forward to working with caucus members to ensure that Texas families are fairly represented by their government. The growth of communities and population shifts in our state as evidenced by the Census data show the need for a fair, open and transparent redistricting process that takes into account proper apportionment, socioeconomic and demographic data.” 

“We will work to ensure the interests of families and communities across the state are addressed.”

Statement from State Representative Carol Alvarado Regarding the Release of the 2010 United State Census Data 

 “With an increase of ­­­­­­­­4.3 million new residents, the release of the 2010 United States Census data confirmed the estimates that Texas has had a major growth in our population.  The data has also confirmed that this increase is directly related to the increase in our Latino community, which grew by a rate of 41.8% in our state and represents 37.6% of the overall Texas population.   

The Texas redistricting process should provide for fair and accurate representation of this data and should expand opportunities for Latinos.  The Latino community should receive three of the new Congressional seats or better and should be properly represented in the State Legislature and on the State Board of Education.”

State Representative Jessica Farrar

Austin, TX– “This Census data shows what lawmakers have known for generations.  Whether you are a Texan by birth or you ‘got here as soon as you could,’ Texas is a destination state that more and more people are proud to call home. 

These new Texas families cannot simply be welcomed.  The Texas Legislature must acknowledge our responsibility to these newest residents.  It must prop up the public schools, colleges, and universities, not gut them as the Republican supermajority is proposing.  To ensure a prosperous future, the Legislature must ensure that every new Texan has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

 With the new Census data, Texans deserve an open and honest redistricting process that ensures that their votes count.  The outcome of district boundaries should reflect the demographic growth and shifts in a way that maximizes, not minimizes, the votes of every Texan.  House Democrats will fight to protect the principle that every Texan be able to fully participate in the democratic process to elect the candidates of their choice. 

As the Legislature analyzes the new Census numbers, House Democrats will release periodic updates to help the public better understand the implications of the data.”

Democrats Respond To Governor’s State of The State
February 8, 2011

2 On The Beat received statements from State Rep. Armando Walle, State Senator Rodney Ellis and State Rep. Carol Alvarado following Governor Perry’s State of the State address:

 State Representative Armando Walle (D-Houston) released the following statement in response to Gov. Rick Perry’s State of the State speech:

 “Gov. Rick Perry laid out his agenda for our state in his State of the State speech today, and it appears that the Governor is living in a different state than the rest of us.  Gov. Perry continues to claim that we don’t have a budget crisis, but the fact is that Texas is facing a $28 billion budget deficit created by failed Republican policies.  The proposed state budgets aim to gut funding for public education,  higher education and our most vital state services.  These budgets will force school districts to fire thousands of teachers and result in the closure of countless schools and nursing homes.

 I am glad that Gov. Perry has finally realized that tuition at our public colleges and universities is too high — yet he now expects these institutions to freeze or lower the cost of tuition while he slashes their budgets by $2 billion.  Gov. Perry often rails against unfunded federal mandates, but he seems to have no problem with unfunded state mandates when they come from his own office.   

Gov. Perry also can’t seem to make up his mind on government’s role in health care.  He continued to rail against the federal health care reform bill today saying that the federal government has no place dictating our medical decisions.  However, just a few moments earlier, he advocated for state government to intrude on a personal medical decision with a mandatory ultrasound before an abortion. 

Gov. Perry must stop grandstanding and repeating the same disingenuous lines, over and over.  Texas was spared the multi-billion dollar budget deficit in 2009 when the federal stimulus bill bailed out our state government, but this year we must address the failed Republican policies that have landed us in this mess.”

Statement of Senator Rodney Ellis on State of the State

“Governor Perry needs to realize that the campaign is over and slogans and bumper stickers are not going to get us out of this mess. 

“Let’s look at reality:   Texas currently faces a $27 billion shortfall, and the initial budget proposals in the House and Senate slash essential services that help millions of Texans families.   According to the Comptroller, we have a $10 billion structural deficit, so just gutting programs for Texans is not the answer.  If that is the only plan, we are going to be right back here in two years dealing with another budget hole, just as in 2009 when we were bailed out by the federal government.

 “So far, this budget tells the disabled Texas child: ‘sorry, won’t help you.’ It tells grandma in the nursing home and on Medicaid: ‘too bad, move back in with your kids.’ The student who followed the rules and we’ve pushed to go to college: ‘good luck with that, but we don’t have any financial aid for you, and tuition is going up.’

 “This budget solution is an all out assault on working Texas families struggling to make ends meet. It protects tax loopholes and tax breaks that cost our state yet produce minimal results, it will eliminate over 100,000 jobs, and leave millions of Texans without essential, basic services.  It’s a cold, impersonal and sterile approach to governing, but budgets aren’t merely numbers—they have real world, sometimes life and death, implications for hundreds of thousands of Texans. 

 “A ‘balanced budget’ that places all of the burden on those who can least afford it is not an achievement.  We must ensure Texans struggling the most are given a helping hand, not a cold shoulder, and those doing well must bear more of the load.  Texas already ranks near the bottom in education resources provided to our communities, and at the top in the percentage of residents without health insurance, and this budget is an express ticket straight to the bottom; Legislators in Mississippi will be saying ‘thank God for Texas’.  

“Texans deserve a genuine, honest discussion on the budget crisis, not more rhetoric and campaign talk.”

 State Representative Carol Alvarado
Responds to the Governor’s ‘State of the State’ Speech 

“The Governor has once again made promises to Texans that he simply cannot pay for.  By ignoring the state’s structural deficit that continues to leave a gap in our budget, the Governor is simply ignoring the realities of our budget.

The Governor’s misplaced priorities are full of misdirection that fail to secure the quality of life for Texas families. His emphasis on emergency bills do little or nothing to improve our budgetary needs, and his personal funding priorities do nothing to save the jobs of the nearly 10,000 state employees that the state budget will eliminate. 

While the Governor is claiming to save lives through his emergency legislation, such as the sonogram bill, he is systematically putting the lives of more Texans in peril through a cuts-only budget.  Taking $1.57 billion out of nursing home funding puts thousands of senior citizens in danger of being homeless and cutting veteran’s services by 21 percent does little to honor those who sacrificed for our freedoms.  Despite the Governor’s claims that he will not accept any unfunded mandates being pushed onto our local governments, Medicaid cuts will represent a large cost shift to local governments throughout Texas, as these cuts will lead to higher local taxes and higher insurance premiums.”

Supporters Celebrate Janiece Longoria’s Reappointment to Port
December 1, 2010

After a long and hard-fought battle to maintain a seat on the Houston Port Authority, newly reappointed commissioner Janiece Longoria took time on Tuesday night to thank her  many friends and supporters.

Dozens of people attended the festive party at Churrascos’ Restaurant;  former Port Commissioner Ned Holmes, State Representative Carol Alvarado, Houston city council members Anne Clutterbuck, Al Hoang, Wanda Adams Sue Lovell and C.O. Bradford, former council member Felix Fraga and countless other civic leaders. 

By now you know the background: Mayor Annise Paker wanted to appoint a representative from the labor community to serve on the seven member commission. But the Mayor’s choice, Dean Corgey,  would have knocked out Longoria,  who is one of two women and the only Hispanic commissioner.   Countless business, political and community leaders rallied behind Longoria. They stressed her experience and  committment to working for the long-term success of the port.  Longoria was reappointed by a 9-6 vote.

Back to the celebration. No one appeared to be gloating, rehashing the bitter politics or criticizing personalities. The focus was on Janiece’s reappointment and her desire to continue serving the port and Houston region for another two years.

(Click here to  learn more about the Port of Houston http://www.portofhouston.com/)

Longoria, a Houston attorney and businesswoman, is also a member of the University of Texas System Board of Regents.

Sen. Ellis and State Rep. Alvarado Bike Across Texas
March 8, 2010

March 8, 2010 Friends:

We would like to share with you our daily updates from the Rise Across Texas Challenge, a two week, 850-mile trek across our great state in an effort to raise money for the Rise Schools, a network of schools dedicated to children with disabilities. No we have not been texting while on our bicycles, but every night we will be sitting down and collecting our thoughts about the day’s ride and reporting back to you. Please enjoy these two updates from March 6th & 7th, the first two days of our ride and look out for our daily emails. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter if you’d like. For more information about the Rise Schools, please visit http://www.riseacrosstexas.org. Saturday, March 6th, 2010 – Rise Across Texas Challenge: DAY 1 – 59 miles- Orange to Kountze Today we started our journey across the state in the Rise Across Texas Challenge benefitting the Rise School, a school for children with learning disabilities.

 We would like to thank Steve Hicks, the President of the Rise Across Texas Foundation for hosting a great journey. This morning we departed from Orange, TX. We kicked off the ride with a nice ceremony hosted by the Orange Chamber of Commerce at Ochiltree Park. We were joined by Mayor Brown Claybar, State Rep. Mike Hamilton, Governor Rick Perry and Beaumont Councilman Audin Samuel. Orange is one of the 10 smallest counties in the state in sq mileage but one of the 45 biggest in population. The town of Orange was settled in 1830 and originally named Green’s Bluff. The name was later changed to honor President James Madison in 1840 and renamed Orange in 1850. 

It was named for an orange grove planted by early settlers at the mouth of the Sabine. Y’all know how paranoid Rodney is about dogs? We were chased by several dogs, but no worries I protected the senator from the wild pack. Attached is a photo of one of the ferocious dogs that was chasing Rodney. We arrived in Kountze this afternoon and head to Conroe tomorrow. Sunday, March 7th, 2010 – Rise Across Texas Challenge: DAY 2- 88 miles, Kountze to Conroe Today Rodney and I met local elected officials from Kountze and then made our ride to Conroe. It was a very long ride filled with a few adventures. Kountze is home of the Big Thicket located in Hardin County. We’re told cougars and bears are still spotted in the Big Thicket. Hardin County was created in 1858, named by the Texas Legislature to honor the Hardin family of Liberty. Kountze was named for two financial backers of the Sabine and East Texas Railroad, Herman and Augustus Kountze. Today we were joined by Bill White.

We’re glad he took a break to join us for a worthy cause. Our adventures included being chased by yet another dog, this time the senator protected me and let me know that I owed him one. I thought we were even since I saved him yesterday? A funny thing happened between Cleveland and Cut and Shoot, someone drove up beside us and threw a beer can at us! I’m pretty sure it was intentional since it had plenty of beer in it. Did I mention Rodney and I took a wrong turn and we rode a few extra miles? Thank God Senator Leticia Van de Putte, who is a pharmacist sent us some special cream. Tomorrow we’re off to Brenham. More updates to come! Thanks to all who have offered their support of our endeavor. From the Road – Carol Alvarado Rodney Ellis Texas State Representative Texas State Senator

Support Sen. Ellis and Rep. Alvarado As They Bike Across Texas
March 3, 2010

 

Join the Family and Friends of Senator Rodney Ellis &

State Representative Carol Alvarado

for a Send Off Reception as they

prepare to BIKE ACROSS TEXAS

benefiting the Rise Schools  

Wednesday, March 3rd

5:30PM to 7:00PM

Haven Restaurant

2502 Algerian Way
Houston, TX, 77098

Please RSVP at 713.649.6563

For more information on the Rise Across Texas Bike Challenge

or to make a donation, please visit www.riseacrosstexas.org

Latinos For Locke
November 6, 2009

Their  election day turnout has been described as disappointing by some political observers,  but Houston Mayoral candidate Gene Locke hopes he can pick up more support in the Latino community to  help him win the runoff election against Annise Parker.

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On Friday, dozens of people packed into El Jardin Restaurant in Houston’s east end to attend a Latinos for Locke luncheon.

The event felt like a political campaign rally, with  Hispanic community and business leaders like Gracie Saenz and Ben Mendez , along with elected officials like State Rep. Carol Alvarado and Precinct 6 Constable Victor Trevino  making speeches in support of  Locke.

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Several times the crowd interrupted into chants of  “Si Se Puede”  and  “We want Gene,” while the speakers talked about Locke and his “long history of  serving the community.”

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“We haven’t seen his opponent in our neighborhood,” said one of the speakers.

“Join me in working hard to elect Gene Locke as our next Mayor,” said another.

Meanwhile, political consultant Marc Campos told 2 On The Beat, “I think looking at the numbers, the Latino vote is up for grabs (in the runoff).  With a close race the Latino vote could make a difference,”

Should Houston Extend Term Limits?
May 4, 2009

State Representatives Garnet Coleman And Carol Alvarado, both democrats from Houston, are applauding the Texas House for passing a bill, which will give Houston voters the choice to extend term limits.

According to Rep. Coleman, House bill 3006, would give voters the choice to expand term limits from the current three two-year terms, to either six two-year terms or three four-year terms.

Voters  could decide this issue  through a proposition on the November 2010 ballot.

“Existing term limits keep Houston City council members from gaining necessary legislative experience,” said Representative Coleman. “Short term limits force out members almost as soon as they larn the legislative process, and deter qualified candidates from seeking office.”

Should Texas Ban Trans Fat From Your Food?
March 3, 2009

Should the State of  Texas have something to say about the food on your plate, or how it is cooked?

State Rep. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston) plans to hold a news conference on Thursday to announce legislation to ban artificial trans fats from Texas Restaurants.

House  Bill 1523  proposes a ban on trans fats in all Texas restaurants and would require that all prepared and served food items contain less than 0.5 grams of  trans fat per serving, according to a news release sent to 2 on the Beat.

It goes on to say that consumption of trans fats, even at low levels, can increase your cholesterol, and heighten the risk for strokes, type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.

What do you think?  Should Texas ban artificial trans fats from restaurants?