In Texas, Mother Nature and Politics are Unforgiving

Texans can add their governor to the list of natural disasters.

In 2006 incumbent Gov. Rick Perry received a mere 39 percent of the total votes. The real message is that 61 percent of Texas voters did NOT want Perry to be elected. Certainly, there must be a reason for that.

Despite Perry’s significantly less than 50 percent of the total number of votes, Texas law does NOT require a run-off of gubernatorial candidates in a general election. Consequently, whoever gets the most votes becomes governor. Perry was very lucky to have run against a strong Democrat (Chris Bell) and two equally popular independent candidates in Carol Keeton Strayhorn and Richard “Kinky” Friedman. Texas voters were divided mostly on these four candidates and Perry was able to squeeze-out the win. To hear Perry gloat after the election, you would have thought he won by 95 percent. Texans have gotten used to Gov. Rick Perry tooting his own horn, even if there is nothing whatsoever to toot about.

In any case, Texans had to accept the fact that Perry was governor for another four years. Maybe Texans will get lucky next time.

Meanwhile, Perry is one of the worst governors Texans ever had. While he was insensitive and incorrigible for most hardworking folks, he was a boon to his special interest industries, e.g., insurance, health care, transportation, electric — to name a few.

In 2002 when Perry ran against Hispanic millionaire Tony Sanchez he insisted that he was NOT “bought” by the insurance industry; however, even on Election Day, the incumbent governor received at least $15,000 from insurance company campaign committees. Since that time the insurance industry and Perry have become life-long friends.

There is a reason why Texans continue to pay the highest insurance costs ANYWHERE in the nation.

While the insurance industry continues to blame the high premiums for home, auto, and health insurance on the high number of natural disasters and other issues, it is no secret that 4 years ago lax insurance laws enabled the industry to DOUBLE costs overnight.

While Gov. Perry, his appointed Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) Commissioner Jose Montemayor and various legislators promised relief to Texas consumers, the doubled premiums remain to this day with no relief in sight. Current Commissioner Mike Geeslin continues to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor and recently was reappointed by the governor to another terms as Commissioner of TDI.

If this was not enough for Texans to bear, for the past six years Perry and legislators continued to promise homeowners relief from sky-high property taxes. Finally in 2007 a placebo law was placed on the books that was supposed to relieve taxpayers of 33 percent within three years. By the time the law was approved and the “relief” was passed along to homeowners, appraisal values and tax rates increased dramatically throughout Texas counties. So, homeowners again found themselves paying ever-escalating taxes with no relief in sight.

It is small wonder that with high costs of home insurance along with escalating property taxes more Texas homeowners were forced into foreclosure than ever before.

Also, since the majority of high property taxes are tied mostly to paying for public education, for the past decade the Texas legislature bogged itself down from finding alternative resources to finance public education. Instead, the state has relieved itself from its constitutional mandate by diverting the burden of financing public education onto counties who continue to overburden homeowners via the escalating property taxes. Thus, the vicious cycle is completed with no relief in sight.

For many years Perry refused to acknowledge publicly that education was in crisis. Finally in 2005 under increasing public pressure he began to admit there was an issue.

In 2003 Texans were subjected to redistricting. Every 10 years under the state constitution redistricting is permitted. At this particular time there were many urgent issues the Texas legislature was supposed to focus on, but none of those issues were resolved. Rather, it was a time of special interest politicking that threatened to close down state government. Then Washington Congressman Tom DeLay left his DC office and headed for Texas to ensure that the GOP would increase its stranglehold throughout the state. Gov. Perry appeared to remain a good distance from the redistricting issue, yet did NOT react to a Washington Congressman lobbying for redistricting Inside the Texas Capitol.

In addition, to ensure DeLay’s redistricting plan was pushed through, Gov. Perry actually called for several “special sessions” in the guise of resolving some urgent issues on public education, financing, etc.; however, it actually was a ploy to push through the redistricting map developed by DeLay. The truly urgent issues remained unresolved.

Texas law does NOT permit a recall of its governor, so the only way to get rid this lackluster governor is to vote him out at the end of a 4-year term. There is no question that Texas sorely is in need of political reform.

Add to all this Perry’s dream of the Trans-Texas Corridor, which is a nightmare for most Texans, and there is a pattern of greed and irresponsibility for profiteering that runs though Perry’s reign.

All in all, Rick Perry has been a worse natural disaster for most Texans and their families than many of the tornados, floods and fires that intermittently rage through the state. However, there is no federal reimbursement available for a failing special interest governor. Therefore, Texans will have to “bite the bullet” and wait out Perry’s current four-year reign before any REAL improvements and economic relief may be forthcoming.

Hopefully, Texans have had enough of this poor excuse of a governor and as voters in 2010 will rally together to vote-in some long-needed “new blood” to cure many of the ills Perry has done so little to resolve. Perry’s time is up and the people of Texas deserve a real governor to lead them into the light of the 21st Century.