For the first time in 14 years, mail going to the governor of Texas carries a different name. On Jan. 20, Greg Abbott assumed the gubernatorial position, replacing Rick Perry. Along with the governor, six new faces were sworn into Austin offices. Now the completely Republican Texas executive branch must prove its worth and the Lariat editorial board has some suggestions on how to make the most out of its time in higher office.
1. Working across the aisle
This board is made of people on both sides of each issue. We disagree at times, but our imperative is to walk away from each meeting agreeing on how we will approach topics. We understand that the Lariat handles much smaller issues than a state executives, but it is our opinion that the new leadership place an imperative on bipartisanship.
Since his election to office in November, Abbott seems only to be concerned with pushing an even heavier agenda of Republican ideals on Texas. This is not healthy.
The American multi-party system is designed to ensure all ideas of merit are considered, but so far the new administration has not been open to the plausibility of negotiations.
This means Democrats will need to come just as far as Republicans. The people of Texas deserve a balanced government. Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or Independent, each elected official assumes the duty of representing the people in the best manner – regardless of political allegiance.
Being open to negotiations and moderation is a crucial issue to address because of the building political tension in America. Texas could set an honorable example for the rest of the country by looking at issues critically, instead of through the lens of a singular party.
Obviously education is a frequently featured issue on a college campus. This editorial board believes the new administration should place a higher emphasis on correcting Texas public education issues.
WalletHub found that in 2014 the state of Texas ranked No. 12 in quality of education in the US. But the same study showed that Texas spends less on students than almost any other state – No. 48 according to the same study.
This new executive board, especially Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, should make educational reform a top priority during their time in office.
The students of Texas do not need more standardized testing. They need healthier student-teacher ratios for more involved engagement. They need better classrooms – whistling windows, musty smells and shoddy desks do not promote a proper learning environment.
The students of Texas do not need more credit requirements. They need updated teaching methods, including more adaptable computer training and more access to technology.
They need better skills training – especially for the students who do not wish to attend college, but instead want to enter the workforce or attend a trade school.
3. Selective federalism
Finally, the new leadership should not fall back to tactics of selective federalism, or only adhering to their political ideals when it is convenient for them.
Within days of the new year, Abbott declared one of his major agenda points would be to handle what he called the “Californ-ization” of Texas.
The governor said he would address the city of Denton’s ordinance against continuing the oilfield technique of hydraulic fracturing and the city of Austin’s ban on plastic grocery bags. Abbott’s stance against these city-made decisions does not line up with his typical small-government politics.
Abbott and his constituents should not waste time fighting small fires when other larger issues, such as immigration, loom. The new elected officials owe those they represent much more than the government equivalent of micromanaging.
Texas is one of the healthiest states in the Union. The new executive officials could carry on with business as usual and see few immediate complications from their imbalanced, red-and-right-only policies.
Or they could challenge the way things have been done and help make a difference in the state of Texas.