Schieffer announces

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte is out. State Sen. Kirk Watson may or may not jump in. Tom Schieffer is in.

After a rally in front of the Fort Worth elementary school he attended, Schieffer plans stops in Houston and Austin as he seeks the Democratic nomination for governor. He’ll be in San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley Thursday.

“People know there is something wrong – they know that Texas is falling behind. They are worried about it,” Schieffer said in an interview last week with the San Antonio Express-News and the Houston Chronicle.

“They want better than what we’ve got now,” Schieffer said. “They’re worried about kind of a sense that state government is going through a know-nothing phase of you don’t have to be thoughtful, you don’t have to be serious, you just have to mouth the buzz words that appeal to people’s prejudices and not to their hopes and dreams.”

Schieffer cited concern over school dropout rates, saying young people are “going to fall behind, and they’re not going to wind up being taxpayers, they’re going to wind up being tax consumers.”

If that continues, he said, “no level of taxes … will support the services that you have to have in this state, and I’m afraid we’re literally on the road to disaster.”


Schieffer said in the interview that many decisions – including failure to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program and draw down more federal money – have been shortsighted.

“That’s great political rhetoric in a Republican primary, but it’s not good public policy, because what happens is that kids still get asthma. They still get sick. And when they’re not covered by health insurance, and they don’t have a doctor who is providing an inhaler to ‘em or that they’re seeing on a regular basis, they wind up in the emergency room in the county hospital,” Schieffer said.

“The kid is out of school. The parents are out of work to take care of the kid. It is the most inefficient, most unproductive way to deliver that health care to those kids – and by the way, it’s not the right thing to do, either,” Schieffer said.

Among other areas, Schieffer also noted the rise in college tuition rates after they were deregulated, saying the state should set rates to ensure higher education is “as economical as possible.”

While addressing the concerns he identified would appear to require an infusion of state revenue, Schieffer didn’t address such specifics when asked in the interview. He said wants to have a thoughtful discussion about public policy with all interested parties at the table to come up with solutions. He said he’ll lay out more detailed plans as the campaign unfolds.

Schieffer did say that property taxes “have pretty well been exhausted’ and that he doesn’t like an income tax.

“I think sales taxes work better than anything else at the state level, but I think you have to sit down and you have to talk about things and you have to do it in a serious way,” he said.

Schieffer said that Perry “talks a lot about a good business climate. I want a good business climate. I’ve got more business experience than Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison combined. But a good business climate is not just having low business taxes. It is having an educational system that can produce the workers of the modern world.”

You’re not going to get there on sales taxes, which I hope Schieffer will realize when he has that serious sit-down with whoever he’ll be talking to about it. Other than that, I’d call this a good start. If Schieffer’s definition of “centrism” is about supporting CHIP and education and casting opposition to those things as being extreme, that’ll help alleviate some doubts about him. He still has a lot of work to do, and I still hope for some more options in this race, if only to ensure a better primary, but I feel like the Democrats at least have a reasonable fallback position in Schieffer. Now we need to go from there.

Other reactions: Greg has some advice for Schieffer. Campos says “As long as the frontline of Lone Star statewide Dems candidates is made up of Anglo fellas, I don’t see a scenario where the Dem base gets revved up – sorry – no se puede.” RBearSAT thinks Sen. Van de Putte made a wide decision, and hopes she runs for Lite Gov. David Mauro considers the repercussions in Travis County if Sen. Watson aims statewide. Phillip has three quick reactions to Schieffer’s announcement. Gardner Selby lists five ways Schieffer could stand or stumble. Martha likes the idea of Sen. Watson running for Governor.

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