Saturday, January 12, 2013

TPPF 2013 Policy Orientation: Highlights from Day 2

TPPF Banner at 2013 Policy Orientation.

As I warned my readers in Part I, I'm not much of a 'live blogger,' so I haven't yet posted on Thursday's  Texas Public Policy Foundation 2013 Policy Orientation.  Here's just a few highlights from Day 2 for those who are not policy geeks.   

Highlights for non-geeks:

Bill Bennett:  "California is the Lindsey Lohan of the states."  And much discussion about the "Texas Model." 

Rick Perry:  2013 Legislative Session faces quite a different scenario from 2011, but in some way having ample funds might be more of a challenge.  (grossly paraphrased.)  He asserted that the best use of the people's money is to give it back to them.  Very pleased that the Governor also called for new abortion restrictions based on fetal pain studies

Jonah Goldberg:  "At the end of the day, if you are not persuading people you disagree with, you lose."

Texas energy boom is underway and contributed some $8.5 billion in taxes and royalties to state and local governments.  Watch out for the EPA! (From "Unleashing the Texas Energy Colossus")

Legislature is encouraged to control spending while addressing "Big" Issues like water and transportation.  Rep Phil King calls for Texas Constitutional amendment regarding state spending cap. (From "Getting a Grip on Government Spending")

Immigration Debate- Introduced by Texas Ag Commissioner Todd Staples, and featuring Congressman Joaquin Castro, Linda Vega of Latinos Ready to Vote, Brad Bailey of The Texas Immigration Solution, Brian Kennedy of the Claremont Institute, and moderator Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal.  

The United States needs to have an immigration policy, and Texas is uniquely positioned to lead on this issue.  (Debate on "Immigration: The Texas Way")  Interestingly, the Twitter feed for #TPPF on this one elicited quite a bit of hostility from non-attendees.  TPPF was immediately attacked for being 'Open Borders,' which is completely bizarre. In the first place, this was a debate, with several different ideas up for discussion, and the speakers were from both sides of the aisle.  Secondly, we have got to be able to discuss possible solutions without hysteria.  As several speakers (and my own State Rep Larry Gonzales,) have noted, the Democrats are the ones benefiting from immigration as an unresolved issue.  We need solutions and have to answer some tough questions.  As Todd Staples, whose book Broken Borders, Broken Promises will be published this year, asked, "Do we really want to grow a government big enough to round up 11 million people?”  I don't think so.

School Choice is the civil rights issue of our time.  Our current one-size-fits-all system is lousy for kids. (Joseph Bast)  Florida's tax credit system has benefited the state's public school system as a whole.  Louisiana State Rep Steve Carter was on hand to detail how they passed sweeping education reforms in his state, and it was just lovely to hear someone inside the state of Texas pronounce "New Orleans" correctly.

The final event I was able to attend was a press conference with the National Association of Scholars.  NAS has just completed a study of U.S.  history courses offered at the University of Texas and Texas A&M that shows that these courses "downplay the nation's economic, military, and political history and dramatically overemphasize the role of race."  As a former history major and teaching assistant, this study comes as no surprise to me.  Read the study for yourself at the NAS website.

Okay, Day 3 summary coming...soon.  And lots of wonderful blog fodder for the next few months...

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