Ah, what could have been. If only the voters of South Texas had been willing to take a chance on former State Rep. Raul Torres in his bid for Senate. If only the “powers that be” in the Texas House had not redistricted him out of his seat. If only.
Oh well, such is life. Fortunately, Raul Torres didn’t take his ball and go home, he decided to release his plan for Texas in the form of an E-book titled:
Early in the plan, you get a glimpse of why the “powers that be” decided to send him packing from the Texas House:
During the 82nd Legislative Session, Texas faced an unprecedented budget shortfall, a hole that was caused by over spending and kicking the can down the road. Last session those who voted for the appropriations bill deferred Medicaid spending, cut funding to education, did not fund k-12 enrollment growth, and did not use funds for their purpose in order to certify the budget. Now we face the prospect of closing another budget gap of up to $6 billion.
Not being a go along to get along guy will get you going along. The thing is, Raul Torres never advocates higher spending – rather, he advocates prioritizing spending and eliminating non-core functions of government. Here is a sample his suggestions for prioritizing spending:
- The Texas Legislature should form a statewide citizen-legislature commission to identify and prioritize the core functions of government;
- The Texas Legislative Budget Board in concert with the Texas Department of Information Resources should develop a web based interactive website to seek input into what citizens feel the priorities of government should be;
- Texas should reexamine its budget process to ensure that it provides policy makers and budget writers with the information necessary for them to make informed decisions regarding program funding;
- State agencies should be required to include information about how they plan to evaluate the effectiveness of their programs and link their disbursements to evidence;
He also provides some commonsense examples of how to save businesses money while at the same time providing more benefit to the state:
While many of the regulations Texas businesses must face are federal, the state can reduce the burden to those businesses by being smarter about how it regulates. For instance a dry cleaner is required to pay a yearly $2,000 fee to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in case of ground contamination due to a chemical spill. That dry cleaner could purchase a $1,000 insurance policy that would provide much more coverage than $2,000 if remediation is needed. Another example of the problem is getting permits needed to construct an industrial plant. Many projects require local, state, and federal permits. The most onerous are required by the Clean Air Act, and some require multiple state and federal permits. The cost to business of these lay not only in the consultants and staff time devoted to navigating these regulations, but in the delay of construction. Texas has a model in place that can cut the wait time down while meeting state and federal regulation requirements.
Perhaps Raul Torres will get another opportunity to run for office. Perhaps not. But he is showing us that it is possible to lead even if you are not one of the “powers that be”. I urge you to read his ebook and forward it on to others in your network and to your state representative and senator. We need more people like Raul Torres to step up and present viable alternatives to the status quo of kicking the can down the road.