December 30, 2008
One fundamental question faces the 81st Legislature: Are we going to embrace the future, or are we going to fight it?
The response to this question has defined our state’s history. Our prosperity rose from the vision of Texas’ bold, forward-looking founders. The state constitution enshrined commitments to educate our children, create great universities and take other formative steps to sustain Texas. This is our greatest inheritance.
But in recent years, the state’s leadership has too often failed to answer this call for boldness. Instead, policy makers have leaned heavily on the status quo — legislating from year-to-year and budget-to-budget, and sacrificing long-term vision for short-term tactics.
In so many areas, the Legislature could make a difference simply by following the legacy of Texas’ legend — by looking for opportunities to make investments and bolster institutions in ways that will make a difference today and for generations to come.
The bills and budgets of this legislative session will decide whether our children and grandchildren will receive the inheritance that we have enjoyed. So the Legislature should take every opportunity to provide the training, planning, infrastructure investment and health protection that will allow the state to thrive.
The Legislature also will have critical opportunities to reform the state’s insurance system so it’s less about companies and more about customers; to ensure that schools prepare kids for a changing global economy; to restructure the Texas Department of Transportation so that the state is more transparent and cities, counties and other jurisdictions have more authority and resources; and to make meaningful, long-term investments in infrastructure.
It won’t be easy to resolve these challenges. But our biggest obstacle will be the instinct to do as little as possible and push our problems off to future legislatures and generations.
Instead, we should embrace this chance to go in a new direction. We should discard perennial excuses and seek out opportunities. And we should answer the call of our founders to make Texas great.It’s time to think big again.