Since 1836, Texas has stood as an icon of the American dream.
Blessed with land, rivers, oil, and other abundant natural resources, early Texas welcomed everyone from cattle ranchers to braceros, from cotton farmers to Chinese railroad workers. These pioneers built a great state, and together we fulfilled a destiny.
From humble beginnings, we built a state with the firm belief that every Texan might rise as high and as far as their spirit, hard work, and talent might carry them. With education and determination every Texan might achieve great success – home ownership, reliable healthcare, safe neighborhoods, and financial prosperity.
In Texas today, the American dream is distant. Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured children in the nation. Predatory lenders charge interest as high as 1100%. Texas is dead last in the percentage of residents with a high school diploma and near last in SAT scores. Texas now has America's dirtiest air. If we do not change course, for the first time in our history, the Texas generation of tomorrow will be less prosperous than the generation of today.
Without the courage to invest in the minds of our children, and steadfast support for great schools, we face a daunting prospect. In Austin, failed leaders more concerned with ideology than solutions, have built in a budget deficit of $8b session after session. Those who value tax cuts over children and budget cuts over college have put Texas at risk in her ability to compete and succeed.
Let us remember that the future of Texas is Texans. Government is us, working together to make tomorrow better than today; government is not an enemy to use for the next election. From our public schools to our national highways, from Social Security to Medicare, from US Marines to DPS officers, government of, by and for people has defined America's democracy for all the world.
In Texas today, the frontier of the future is the talent of our children. If we graduate more of our best and brightest with the skills to succeed in a world based on knowledge, Texas will be the state of the future. If we do not, family incomes will fall an average of $6,000 by 2040, and Texas falls further behind.
As Bob Bullock used to say, lead, follow or get out of the way. Texans want solutions, not secession. Texans are compassionate, not cruel. The time for change in Texas is now. Deep in the hearts of Texas, our children, our state and our future are worth the fight!
LAST MONTH, A WEEK before the Senate seat of the liberal icon Edward M. Kennedy fell into Republican hands, his legacy suffered another blow that was perhaps just as damaging, if less noticed. It happened during what has become an annual spectacle in the culture wars.
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Eliot Shapleigh Recognized as Public Elected Official of the Year