Dewhurst is neither dear nor a friend

Posted on 07 Jul 2011 at 1:35pm

Lieutenant governor’s email touts disastrous budget cuts as a success, says he’s preparing to share some ‘exciting news’

PHYLLIS GUEST | Contributing Columnist

As the Special Session of the Texas Legislature ended, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst posted a “Dear Friend” letter online.

The Internet being what it is, the letter also went to those who do not think him dear and do not consider him a friend.

In it, he touts what he considers the accomplishments of “[w]e conservatives.” These include cutting state spending by nearly $15 billion, balancing the budget without raising taxes, preserving Rainy Day funds for future budget balancing, enacting a strong voter ID law, passing legislation to reduce frivolous lawsuits, and protecting the unborn.

Let’s look at a few of the people and services that got the axe:

• School teachers

• School librarians

• Public library services

• Nursing home care

• Stipends for college

• Access to contraceptives

• Access to low-cost health care

• Food, etc., for prisoners

The list goes on and on. But the list is sad, while the letter is funny — assuming you enjoy black humor.

The first funny thing is that Dewhurst reminds readers five times of his position on the political spectrum. In addition to noting what “[w]e conservatives” did to make the 82nd Legislature “one of the most successful in Texas history,” he mentions his conservative record, his conservative values, the Lege’s conservative victories, and the wonders of conservative change.

Also funny is his claim to having reduced current state spending by almost $15 billion. Does he think we have forgotten that he and Gov. Rick Perry never mentioned, during the last re-election campaign, our state’s shabby fiscal condition? Only later did we learn that our state was $25 billion in the hole. That’s give or take a few billion, according to State Comptroller Susan Coombs.

Even funnier is his pride in the passage of the voter ID law “to protect the integrity of our elections.” Remind us how many unqualified individuals have dashed to the polls, desperate to vote? How distressing it was to wait for hours, in pouring rain or blazing sun, to get to a voting machine? Apparently it is true that a handful of ineligible people have voted, and some have been cited for technical violations. However, far more Texans turned out for the Dallas Mavericks parade than for the Dallas mayoral runoff. Go Mavs!

Funnier still is that he boasts of providing “pregnant women the opportunity to see a sonogram of their unborn child.” Does he believe no such opportunity had existed before? To his mind, and that of his colleagues, have clinics and clinicians across the state refused pregnant women access to ultrasound technology available even in (gasp!) Africa and Asia? As to his companion boast of “requiring a 24-hour waiting period” before a woman can get an abortion? Only a stupid straight or a closeted queen could deem that the state’s business.

Finally, Dewhurst probably thinks clamping down low-cost health care is a real knee-slapper. The June 29 Dallas Morning News reported that the new state budget cuts funds to Parkland’s family planning clinics by more than half, or about $5 million. Statewide, $63 million was cut from family planning programs. So the Lege is punishing not only an organization that refers women for abortion services — Planned Parenthood — but all low-income women. Men, too, of course. And the unwanted children who will be born as a result.

The 82nd Legislature on which Dewhurst was “proud to report” tore a $467 million hole in the state’s already frayed social safety net, lopping off chunks of the Medicaid program that would have helped, according to the DMN, poor children, pregnant women, nursing home residents, and the disabled.

But here’s the best part of the Dewhurst letter. After assuring readers that he and his wife, Tricia, had prayed over his future, he reports — in bold face type — “we will have exciting news to share with you about what we will do next.”

Be still, my heart.

Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist and member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. Contact her via editor@dallasvoice.com.

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