Newspaper clipping headlined "Editorials section, Special Session: This time let's do it right" June 14, 1987
Newspaper clipping headlined "Editorials section, Special Session: This time let's do it right" June 14, 1987. Regarding other issues the author thinks should be addressed during the special session for budget legislation.
Clippings (information artifacts)
"Texas Governor Term 2, 1987-1991"
The Dallas Morning News
Texas A&M University
Cushing Memorial Library and Archives
"Governor William P. Clements, Jr. Official State Papers, 2nd Term, 1987-1991"
State Papers Addendum | 2nd term
Texas State library and archives commission
Budget Battle of 1987
Clements Texas Papers
DALLAS MORNING NEWS EDITORIALS AM 1 4 937 SPECIAL SESSION This time let's do it right Same song, third verse. But hopefully, bet- ter, much better harmony. The state needs to get its fiscal house in order, and do it quickly. But the failure of the regular legislative session left more than the budget undone. There is much that des- perately needs doing, and since lawmakers will be in town anyway, Gov. Bill Clements should open the special session to other crit- ical agenda items. Among those agenda items they should be seeking consensus on are: 1) SPENDING and REVENUE: It is time for those who maintain state government abso- lutely cannot do with one program or one dime less to become part of the solution by determining what they can do without. It is time for lawmakers attempting to protect their district's bit of pork to become a part of the solution by offering to make cuts if oth- ers will join them. It is time to concentrate on establishing spending priorities that re- flect the difficult economic times in which we live. But it is also time for those demanding cuts to realize that government must pro- vide the infrastructure of our society and economy and there are levels below which government spending cannot be allowed to fall. It is time for these budget cutters to re- alize a tax hike is going to have to be a part of the solution, too. Gov. Bill Clements and Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby are beginning to move toward such a compromise — and that's a good sign. When all is said and calculated, a total figure of around $38.5 billion seems right. New revenue will have to be raised to achieve a realistic bottom line. The first place lawmakers should turn is to an expan- sion of the sales tax base. The second is a reconstitution of the franchise tax that would obtain greater revenue from corpora- tions with high receipts but low capital. The third is an increase in tuition at the state's public universities. The fourth should in- clude placing a lottery on the ballot for a pnblic vote this November. 2) JUDICIAL REFORM: The recent repri- mand of two Supreme Court justices by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct again points up the crying need for merit selection of judges. 3) GOVERNMENT REORGANIZATION: Clements should take the long view and use his leverage in a special session to take steps that can lead to a serious restructuring of state government conducive to tougher management and greater efficiency. In the regular session, several steps were taken down this road, but many are left. These "good government" reforms should include: Granting budget execution authority whereby a group of the state's top elected of- ficials can shift funds and freeze some spending in the face of a fiscal crisis. III Creation of a state "personnel office," probably within the state auditor's office, to standardize policies and classifications. In- credibly, each state agency still has its own personnel system. II Creation of a "select committee" to study Texas' retirement systems to update their operations. • Consolidation of all funds held by state agencies outside the Texas treasury into a fund within the treasury. 4) CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Although the reg- ular session did a very good job in passing legislation to tackle the state's burgeoning crime wave, one 'critical element was left out: a Texas law patterned on the federal Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act It would provide for the forfeiture of some types of property derived from the col- lection of unlawful debts, or a pattern of ac- tivities including illegal acts. It also would establish several types of offenses concern- ing the collection of illegal debts or patterns of unlawful conduct. 5) TORT REFORM: Again? Yes, there is one item that needs to be addressed. In 1977, in response to a severe crisis in insurance rates, the Legislature established a $500,000 cap on the amount of awards for medical malpractice. However, although it has had several opportunities to do so, the Texas Su- preme Court has not validated the constitu- tionality of the act. Without this validation, insurance companies have refused to take the cap into account when calculating prem- iums. A constitutional amendment should be approved and sent to the voters that vali- dates such a cap, although the setting of the amount should be left to the Legislature. 6) CAMPAIGN FINANCE: Texas business executives wail about being held up for cam- paign fund by every politician in town. The average Texan is appalled at the enormous sums flowing into campaign coffers. In the regular session, Sen. John Montforcl, Dlub- bock, offered a bill to cap the size of contri- butions by both individuals and political ac- tion committees, to restrict the use of bor- rowed funds and to toughen reporting laws. Texas needs to clean up its campaign finance act, and Clements would make a sig- nificant contribution to his state's future by tackling this problem. The speed with which the first special ses- sion dispatched tort reform indicates the Legislature can act when a meeting of the minds is achieved. That means Clement,, Hobby and House Speaker Gib Lewis must at- tain a consensus. If they can do 90 on this simple agypia, then they can all go home with street A's.