What Becky Moeller says

I like this statement by Texas AFL-CIO President Becky Moeller so much, I’m printing it in full:

Texas AFL-CIO President Becky Moeller issued this statement at a news conference held near the site of the Republican State Convention in Dallas:

Hello. My name is Becky Moeller. I am president of the Texas AFL-CIO, a state labor federation consisting of more than 200,000 affiliated union members who advocate for working families in Texas.

On May 19, the Texas AFL-CIO publicly offered Gov. Rick Perry the use of this manufactured home as alternative housing for $1 a year. We added some amenities for illustrative purposes to give it a homey touch, including a 50-year-old stuffed German shepherd (not a coyote) that has sentimental value to me, issues of Food and Wine magazine and a goodly supply of hair product.

The governor’s spokesman pooh-poohed the idea, saying we have better uses for our resources. We are interpreting that response and the ensuing silence over the last few weeks as a “no” and we are working on the matter of a worthwhile permanent use for this fine single-wide residence. But first we have a point or two to make at the state political conventions.

Some have described our offer as a “political stunt”. We have used what may be a colorful tactic to make a very serious point.

When the Legislature convenes in 2011, Texans face what may be the most austere budget picture ever, with a shortfall estimated as high as $18 billion. So far, our state’s leaders have asked virtually all state agencies to cut 5 percent from the current budget and propose an additional 10 percent of cuts in the next budget.

These exercises are the norm in tough economic times, but the choices faced by the Legislature are considerably broader than some of the early political-season rhetoric would have you believe. Rather than “cut bone” in critical state programs like education, health care and infrastructure, the Texas AFL-CIO has suggested, for example, that the Rainy Day Fund, which will be nearly $10 billion by next January, should be spent down before a single state job or core program is eliminated or harmed.

In this picture, the governor’s taxpayer-funded lifestyle is not a big issue, but it is hugely symbolic. We don’t begrudge Gov. Perry comfortable living quarters. The People’s Mansion, which was tragically gutted by an arsonist, is a state treasure that we look forward to seeing restored across the street from our office. But in the midst of leadership calls for cuts in public schools, universities, hospitals and infrastructure agencies, we think our leaders should set an example.

When we heard from the governor’s spokeswoman that Gov. Perry was setting that example by making do with a full-time chef and a part-time chef on the taxpayer dime, we believed strongly that the wrong message was being sent.

The record will reflect that when Gov. Perry cut his own budget, he simply cut some unspent funds from the economic development money that he controls. While generating jobs is important to our state, the program is controversial and does not touch on the day-to-day operations of the governor’s office. Meanwhile, AP reported that taxpayers have spent $600,000 to date to house Gov. Perry in a $10,000-a-month mansion in a gated community 14 miles from the Capitol. Gov. Perry has said he was forced to make this choice by the Department of Public Safety and the Legislature, though the evidence for that assertion seems to be wanting.

We think the issue is simple. At a time when Texans are hurting for jobs and the state is preparing for a time of austerity, the governor of Texas – who is calling for less government and more cuts — should set an example of sacrifice. Maybe the manufactured home you see here isn’t to the governor’s liking and maybe the Texas AFL-CIO parking lot is not the best venue for a temporary gubernatorial residence. We would assert, however, that a cloistered millionaires’ neighborhood rented on the people’s dime shouldn’t be to the liking of Texans. Anyone who thinks this manufactured home isn’t serious ought to take a close look at the governor’s temporary digs and consider who is less serious about the times and issues our state faces.

The only thing I’d add is to note that as Lisa Falkenberg has shown, even Perry has now backed away from his ridiculous “DPS made me do it” statement. Besides that, it’s spot on.

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One Response to What Becky Moeller says

  1. Donna Graham says:

    Ms. Moeller,

    Don’t know if you will remember me from SWBT, but if you do..Glad to see you are still kickin it up.

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