Corporations in Texas are worried about going thirsty. The water funding fight in Texas looks to be between the corporate GOP and the tea party. From Dave Montgomery, Opposition forming to massive Texas water plan.
The unfolding campaign appears almost certain to match the contours of the legislative debate, balancing the need to keep Texas economically vibrant with a robust water supply against Tea Party-fueled opposition over spending rainy-day money on the multibillion-dollar program.
The effort is expected to include much of the state’s political leadership, including Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.
H204Texas, a coalition that includes chambers of commerce, energy companies, water suppliers and other interests, has already started mapping out a political-style campaign that includes fundraising, media buys, op-ed pieces and elaborate use of social media.
“We’re already in full force,” said Heather Harward, the coalition’s executive director.
SJR1 has strong support among community leaders in the Metroplex. Representatives of the Tarrant County government, the City of Fort Worth and the Arlington Chamber of Commerce testified in behalf of the measure during the Legislature.
“I think voters in Texas understand the challenges that we face with our water needs here,” said state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth. “I definitely will speak in my district about it and certainly encourage the consideration of its passage in my district. “
Matt Geske, director of government affairs for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, said the business-based entity plans to promote the initiative actively, adopting a strategy similar to a high-profile effort the chamber used in helping pass a 2009 constitutional amendment to expand the number of tier one universities in Texas.
“I think it’s going to be a similar push for this one to make sure everyone knows why this is important,” Geske said.
But opposition is also taking shape as an array of conservative groups — including Tea Party and citizens lobby organizations — work their formidable email networks to point up what they say are a number of reasons why the initiative should be defeated.
Recycling a major element from the legislative debate, opponents have begun to denounce the proposed use of $2 billion in state rainy-day funds, which lawmakers approved in a separate appropriations bill to capitalize the proposed bank.
Opponents say that putting the $2 billion into a constitutionally dedicated fund enables supporters to avoid having the money count against a state spending cap, which conservatives both in and out of the Legislature have vowed to protect vigorously.
“We’re going to have to oppose it,” said JoAnn Fleming of Tyler, executive director of Grassroots America, which she said networks with more than 300 Tea Party and liberty organizations.
Fleming said members of her organization and related groups plan to work through summer and fall in a “good old-fashioned grassroots effort” to drum up votes against the initiative. “We’ve been successful with that in the past,” she said.
One influential conservative group, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, came out against the proposal during the just-ended regular legislative session, but group President Michael Quinn Sullivan said in an email that “it’s premature to speculate on what we may or may not be doing in the fall on constitutional amendments.”
“A great many conservative groups opposed SJR1 in the legislature,” said Sullivan, who is president of Empower Texans and Texans for Fiscal Responsibility. “We know a lot of folks are going to be talking about it in the fall. If or when we decide to engage in that issue, we’ll engage.”
Chuck Molyneaux of McKinney, 73, a retired software developer who heads the North Texas Citizens Lobby, said his organization is reaching out to its allies in the Tea Party community to oppose the measure and the proposed use of rainy-day funds.
“We’re going to do our best to keep it from being passed,” he said. “This one just reeks of smoke and mirrors.”
H2O4Texas has corporate sponsors out the wazoo. The corporate side wants to make sure that everyone is aware of the supposedly good “economic impact” of doing something about water. The tea party opposes it because of where the money comes from. They’d be for it if the money came from cutting what they deem unnecessary government like public education.
Missing mostly from the conversation, as usual, is what, if any, benefit the taxpayers will receive, other then the so-called economic benefits. Hopefully the plan will keep taxpayers in drinking water, without ra raising our taxes too much. The corporate thirst for Texas water may be unquenchable.