Recent editorials from Texas newspapers

Published on NewsOK Modified: September 23, 2014 at 4:02 am •  Published: September 23, 2014
Advertisement
;

Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Sept. 17, 2014.

Texans deserve to know endgame for border surge

It's been three months since Texas Department of Public Safety officers "surged" on the southern border.

Absent federal action, the $1.3 million a week plan was an understandable response to the massive influx of Central American migrants into the U.S.

And it was just the beginning. The following month, Gov. Perry ordered 1,000 National Guard troops to support the DPS efforts, an open-ended mission that is costing the state $12 million a month.

But while the state's border presence has swelled in recent weeks, the flood of migrants that first warranted the escalation appears to be receding.

During a legislative committee meeting two weeks ago, DPS director Col. Steve McCraw reported that his agency apprehended just under 2,000 illegal immigrants in the Rio Grande Valley operation zone during the previous week.

That's about half of the average weekly apprehensions in July, when DPS officials were stopping about 4,000 individuals each week and the president was still calling the wave of unaccompanied children an "urgent humanitarian situation." And it is well below the summer high of 6,600 detentions a week.

Still, authorities are detaining more than 8,000 unlawful border-crossers each month, and untold numbers escape detection.

But according to the Houston Chronicle, McCraw has back-peddled on his July claim to lawmakers that reducing unlawful crossings to fewer than 2,000 a week would satisfy the DPS mission's "intended objective."

He told the Chronicle that "it just so happens that was a goal we had, but we're not satisfied until we get 100 percent" of unlawful crossing eliminated.

That's fine rhetoric, but it's also an impossible target. Given the hefty price tag of border surge operations — now the exclusive burden of Texas taxpayers — more realistic goals are needed. Or any goals for that matter.

The DPS surge is slated to continue through at least the end of the calendar year; the National Guard's commitment is indefinite.

Whether the "surge" has contributed to the decline in unlawful border crossings or not, the continued need for such a robust presence on the border needs to be re-examined.

Texans deserve to know what the endgame is.

___

Waco Tribune-Herald. Sept. 18, 2014.

Abbott ethics complaint against gubernatorial rival Davis is frivolous at best

State Attorney General Greg Abbott is likely to become Texas' next governor in the Nov. 4 election, but his decision to file an ethics complaint against his opponent for using campaign funds to promote her new autobiography strikes us as beneath the dignity of both his present and possibly future offices. It's also as hollow as last month's groundless indictment of Gov. Rick Perry for abuse of what we see as his completely legitimate executive powers.

The complaint claims that state Sen. Wendy Davis, a Democrat running a stronger-than-expected campaign for governor (at least given her anemic primary run), violated state law when her campaign paid for her to travel to New York City to plug "Forgetting to Be Afraid" because she personally benefits from sales of the book. The complaint somewhat sheepishly acknowledges she also held a "single, solitary campaign fundraiser" in the Big Apple, describing it as "a small, minor activity on the trip."

Let's get real. Lots of politicians put out books, sometimes when they're in office, sometimes when they're running for office, sometimes when they're running for office but haven't filed the paperwork yet. A few weeks ago, residents welcomed Republican Congressman and possible presidential contender Paul Ryan to Waco to promote his new book, "The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea." (We even helped promote it.) And Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton's memoir is out, just ahead of a likely second run for president.

In short, many high-profile candidates these days issue quickly written books to promote their ideas, accomplishments and themselves — books that are just as quickly forgotten after the election, especially if the candidate loses. But either way, they're more informative campaign material than a mailer, robocall or stump speech. In filing this frivolous ethics complaint, Greg Abbott only raises more questions about the legitimacy of some of the lawsuits he has filed in recent years.

___

San Antonio Express-News. Sept. 19, 2014.

Time to raise the gas tax

Texas politicians would rather hug porcupines than raise taxes. And that is, unfortunately, one big reason why we have a road-funding crisis.

Texas has not raised the gas tax since 1991 when Gov. Ann Richards was in office.

Since then, the gas tax has remained at 20 cents per gallon. When adjusted for inflation, that's about 9.2 cents per gallon, state lawmakers have said. If the tax had been indexed to increase with inflation, it would be 43 cents per gallon.

Factor in more fuel-efficient vehicles, and it's easy to see how the gas tax has not kept up.

Instead, the state has relied on billions and billions in debt to maintain roads. We spend more than a $1 billion a year just financing this debt.

It's hard to see how that is preferable to raising the gas tax.

State lawmakers should consider raising the gas tax as one step toward improving and maintaining Texas' roads. Other options include raising registration fees or transferring vehicle sales tax from the general fund to the State Highway Fund.

Even with the likely passage of Proposition 1 this fall, the state's road situation will remain dire.

Proposition 1 would take part of the state's oil and gas production tax revenue directed to the state's rainy day fund and apply it toward transportation needs.

It's estimated to produce $1.7 billion a year for the State Highway Fund, and it doesn't raise taxes. Voting yes for Proposition 1 is a no-brainer.

Even still, Texas will need $4 billion to $5 billion more just to keep up. This brings us back to the gas tax. The need to raise it is evident. It makes no sense to avoid raising a tax only to rack up debt.

___

Austin American-Statesman. Sept. 15, 2014.

Stop failing veterans when they need help most

Earlier this year, a scandal enveloped the Department of Veterans Affairs over how long veterans were having to wait for medical care. Frustratingly and sadly, here we are a few short months later with another report of another failure by the VA to meet the needs of the veterans it's meant to help.

Continue reading this story on the...