"Shake Austin Up" Plan - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

09/20/06

"Shake Austin Up" Plan

News Release:

Texas Independent Candidate for Governor Carole Keeton Strayhorn today proposed her "Shake Austin Up" Plan to make state government more responsive to the people and more open and honest.

"For six long years, today's Austin political establishment has put the people in the backseat and their own interests in the front seat," she said. "I will put an end to this us-against-them culture that has allowed the special interests to control our state government."

Strayhorn's proposal will:

Abolish the Governor's taxpayer-funded corporate welfare slush funds

Prohibit lobbyists from giving lawmakers gifts and other considerations

Ban all state elected officials and state employees from lobbying for four years

End contracts with Washington, D.C., lobbyists

Abolish the Office of State Federal Relations

Institute Initiative and Referendum

Make all signed contracts available for public inspection

Support an independent Redistricting Commission

Create a non-partisan, open election system

Require all non-ceremonial votes of the Legislature to be recorded

Prohibit last-minute pork-barrel spending amendments to the budget

Create a truth-in-budgeting law

Transparency in budgeting - no hidden employees or hidden allocations

Reinstate the Texas Performance Reviews and the Texas School Performance Reviews

"With these reforms, we will shake up today's Austin political establishment from top to bottom, and we will make Austin hear our voices," Strayhorn said. "The priorities in Austin today are misplaced. It's time to put Texans first, not the special interests. To put the focus back on the priorities that matter most, we must fix what's wrong in Austin.

"People are speaking loudly and clearly -they want a real school funding solution, real property tax relief and to put a stop to a foreign company building, controlling and profiting from tollroads across Texas. They want our elected officials in Austin to set aside their partisan political differences and work together to do what is right for all Texans - from cleaner energy to stopping dirty coal plants from polluting the air, to protecting and enhancing all our park land, to toughening our laws to protect children from violent sexual predators.

"The government reforms I will impose will let the people's voices be heard," Strayhorn said. "Today, it's impossible to tell the difference between the lobbyists and the lawmakers."

Strayhorn said she will abolish the taxpayer-funded corporate welfare slush funds (the Texas Enterprise Fund and the Emerging Technology Fund) and use the $300 million in the funds to finance her TexasNextStep program.

No longer will lobbyists be allowed to give any gifts - whether it is gifts, entertainment, transportation and lodging or other considerations for legislators and elected officials. They will be banned.

"We will act to ban all state elected officials and state employees from lobbying the State for four years after leaving office or retiring," Strayhorn said. "And, I will lead by example. When I am Governor, I will ask every employee of the Governor's office in my administration to pledge not to lobby the Governor's office for four years upon leaving their position. There will be no revolving door in my administration. Instead, there will be a granite wall."

Strayhorn said she was dismayed that the administration has entered into contracts with lobbyists in the nation's capital and will not only end the practice, but also abolish the state's agency assigned to influence laws in Washington.

"We have two senators and 32 representatives the people are already paying to look out for Texas," she said.

Long an advocate of Initiative & Referendum, Strayhorn will let the people have a direct say in public policy; will also insist all state contracts are open to the public - unlike the current, secret contract with a foreign company to build toll roads across the state - and will create an independent redistricting commission to take politics out of that process.

Strayhorn will create a non-partisan, open political election system that will allow all candidates to set aside partisan politics and campaign in a truly democratic process.

"And forcing the Legislature to make every important vote a recorded vote will keep legislators accountable to their constituents by letting constituents know what their representatives are doing in Austin," she said.

Strayhorn will prohibit last-minute amendments to the state budget that allows pork-barrel spending, and she will create a truth-in-budgeting law that will ensure dedicated funds go where they are originally intended and prohibit office-holders from forcing other state agencies to pick up the salaries of their employees.

Finally, the highly-successful reviews of state government and schools will identify best practices, uncover waste and fraud, and save taxpayers dollars.

Strayhorn's Government Reform plan is part of her Texas First Agenda to create great schools for our children, real security for families and a responsible government for our citizens. She has outlined a number of solutions including, comprehensive education, transportation and health care plans along with her "Shake Austin Up" reforms.

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